MBK: Blau, Carlin lead Warriors into NAIA semifinals

Cory Blau scored 24 points to lead Westmont past Mid-American Christian. (Photo by Brian Beard)

Cory Blau scored 24 points to lead Westmont past Mid-American Christian. (Photo by Brian Beard)

By Eric Montgomery
NAIA Media Relations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The tandem of Cory Blau and Daniel Carlin combined for 49 points, leading Westmont to a 78-66 defeat of No. 13 Mid-America Christian (Okla.) Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in Municipal Auditorium.

The Warriors will lock up with No. 1-seed and GSAC rival Hope International, an 74-62 winner over No. 8 Martin Methodist (Tenn.), in Monday’s national semifinals. It marks the first time since 1999 that two GSAC schools appeared in the semifinals.

Blau and Carlin shot a combined 17-of-27 (.630), part of a torrid Westmont shooting effort in the second half.

“We looked tired in the first half, but the main thing I wanted to do was give them lots of confidence,” said Westmont coach John Moore. “I looked them all in the eyes and said that ‘we have played five halves and four of those have been spectacular. In this half you’re going to make it five out of six.’ They bought in and the really believed in themselves. Our tenacity in the second half was storybook. We will remember that for a long time to come.

Daniel Carlin of Westmont shoots a reverse layup during NAIA quarterfinal game. (Photo by Brian Beard - CIP)

Daniel Carlin of Westmont shoots a reverse layup during NAIA quarterfinal game. (Photo by Brian Beard – CIP)

“Cory Blau was clutch tonight. I think we got the ball to him tonight at the right spots and he really went to work. He has been special for us all season and tonight was no exception.”

Another storyline was on the sidelines as Mid-America Christian coach Willie Holley (813) and coach Moore (542) have combined for more than 1,350 victories in 69 years of coaching. They both land in the active NAIA Top 25 list.

The Evangels appeared for a blow-out win in the game’s first four minutes. A pair of three’s by Brock Hunter and Semar Farris, to go along with a jumper by Josh Smith, handed Mid-America Christian an 8-0 lead. The advantage grew to as many as 14 on two occasions, the last at the five-minute mark (32-18). But Westmont trimmed the deficit to 36-28 at the half.

The second half was the opposite story. Westmont shot 71 percent (15-of-21), while the Evangels hit a dismal 28 percent (10-of-36).

The Warriors took the lead for good on a two-point basket by Blau with 12:53 remaining. Carlin went for four straight points and then it was Blau’s turn. The sophomore out of Laguna Niguel, Calif., scored six points during a spurt that put the game out of reach for Mid-America Christian.

The Evangels, appearing in their first-ever national championship, got to within five points late. However, Westmont made its free throws down the stretch.

In addition to Carlin and Blau’s scoring, Gerald Karczewski finished with 10 points.

Farris led four Evangels in double-figures with 15 points and six rebounds. Jerrick Massenburge added 14 points and six boards off the bench.

Mid-America Christian ends its season with a 25-11 mark.

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