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Swanson Lifts Bethel College In Title Game

Rico Swanson’s jump shot with 1.6 seconds remaining lifted top-ranked Bethel (Ind.) College to its third championship in four years with an 89-87 victory Tuesday over Oregon Tech of Klamath Falls in the title game of the NAIA Division II men’s basketball tournament in Nampa, Idaho.

Swanson’s shot with 2.2 seconds remaining in the quarterfinal round eliminated Whitworth College on Saturday. Swanson was named NAIA Division II player of the year and most valuable player of the tournament for the second consecutive year. The All-American point guard is the all-time leading scorer in tournament history.

In the title game, Bethel (36-3) held a 50-45 halftime lead, but Oregon Tech pulled ahead with a six-point run in the first 2 minutes after halftime. Bethel regained the lead at 56-53 before the Owls’ Bob Townsend and Kevin Carlston hit consecutive 3-point shots at the 16:00 mark.

From that point, Oregon Tech (26-11) either led or was tied until Swanson’s winning shot.

Ryan Bales led Bethel in scoring with 25 points while center Eric Brand added 19. Oregon Tech was paced by Matt Foster’s 21 points.

At Tulsa, Okla., Leon Johnson’s 32 points led unseeded Central Washington past fifth seed Union (Tenn.) 73-64 to open the NAIA Division I basketball tournament.