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Evans’ 26-footer caps Findlay’s perfect year

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Tyler Evans made his only basket count – and it gave Findlay a perfect season and a national championship.

Evans’ long 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer lifted Findlay (Ohio) to a 56-53 victory over Cal Poly Pomona in the men’s Division II title game Saturday, giving the Oilers a 36-0 record.

“I had the mind-set that I was going to take the shot,” said Evans of his 26-footer from the right wing after taking an in-bounds pass. “I pictured it as catch-and-shoot, but a guy was right on me, so I stepped back and let it fly.”

Evans, a senior reserve guard, had scored one point and was 0 for 3 on 3-pointers before his winner.

“They defended Tyler pretty well, though,” Findlay coach Ron Niekamp said. “He took a step and let it fly. It was right out of ‘Hoosiers.’ ”

The Oilers became the fourth team to finish unbeaten since the Division II men’s tournament began in 1957.

Cal Poly Pomona (25-8) was trying to become the first unranked team to win the tournament since North Alabama in 1979.

The Broncos overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half, and led 41-40 when Larry Gordon (17 points) hit a 3-pointer with 5:30 left in regulation, capping a 19-4 run.

Regulation ended at 42-all. In the overtime, forward Josh Bostic, the Division II player of the year who led Findlay with 13 points, fouled out with 3:40 left.

Bostic was named tournament MVP.

Evans had scored eight points in the semifinal, all in the second half with two key 3-pointers when Findlay rallied from a nine-point deficit for a 67-65 victory over Central Missouri.

In the final, Findlay scored more points in the overtime (14) than in the second half (12). The Oilers shot 5 for 23 in the second half, and went nearly nine minutes without scoring during a 13-0 Cal Poly Pomona run.

That cut Findlay’s 36-22 lead to 36-35 with 8 minutes left.

In the overtime, the teams traded leads until Evans hit the winner after the teams came out of a timeout.