Reed Dungan led all scorers with 19 points for Dalton State, while Carnilious Simmons posted 17 points and a game-best 19 rebounds. Sayvon Wilson chipped in with 16 points and nine rebounds, and Isaiah Box tallied 11 points and six rebounds.
“I thought the difference in the game was the kids were willing to do what needed to be done to win the game,” said Dalton State head coach Tony Ingle. “We ran a 1-3-1 half-court defense the majority of the night. We’ve maybe ran that defense two minutes total in four years. It was the best defense we needed to win the game.”
Dalton State (29-4) dominated play inside on both ends of the floor, posting a 52-30 rebounding advantage that included a 16-6 discrepancy on the offensive end. The Roadrunners turned those rebounds into 17 second chance points, contributing to a total of 50 points in the paint to 28 for the Bulldogs.
The Roadrunners led nearly wire to wire, falling behind by just a single point on two occasions in the opening minutes of the game. Wilson erased the last of the two deficits with six points of an 8-0 spurt that pushed Dalton State in front, 21-14, at the 10:46 mark of the first half.
The closest Montana Western edged toward the lead came late in the first half when Chase Haack hit a three-pointer, followed by buckets from Shyke Smalls and Kooper Kidgell to tie the game at 31-31. However, Dalton State answered with nine-straight points to finish the half, the last five coming from Dungan.
Defense was the catalyst in the second half for the Roadrunners, holding the Bulldogs to 9 of 31 (.290) shooting that included a 14.3 percent mark (2 of 14) from three-point range. Though both teams recorded just seven turnovers apiece, Montana Western finished the game 4 of 27 (.148) from beyond the arc.
“You can’t win if you don’t rebound,” said Montana Western head coach Steve Keller. “We didn’t make enough shots and they outworked us. We still had a great season and I didn’t expect this team to go 25-8.”
Smalls paced Montana Western with 12 points, while Kidgell, Haack and Marcus Payne each finished with 10 points. Dom Robinson chipped in with eight points and four assists, while Zaccheus Darko-Kelly led the effort on the glass with six rebounds.
Dalton State – In just their second appearance at the national championship, the Roadrunners of Dalton State are now 7-0 all-time at the event … In the first appearance for the Roadrunners, they won a national title over Westmont (Calif.) … In the NAIA, Dalton State ranks No. 3 in steals per game (9.9) and total steals (319) … Carnilious Simmons ranks No. 2 individually in offensive rebounds per game (3.8) as well as No. 3in total rebounds (323) and No. 5 in total rebounds per game (10.1) … Reed Dungan earned 19 points – this mark led all scorers in the game … From the field the Roadrunners went 31-71 for just 43 percent … The matchup in the quarterfinals against Texas Wesleyan will be the first meeting between the two this season.
Montana Western – With the loss, the Bulldogs of Montana Western now fall to 8-14 all-time in the national championship after completing their 14th appearance in program history … Last season, Montana Western was knocked out in the first round to William Penn (Iowa) … Out of the Frontier Conference, the Bulldogs rank No. 4 in the NAIA in scoring offense per game (88.2) and No. 5 in total scoring (2,823) … The 60 points scored tonight were well-below their season average … Four Bulldogs earned double-digits led by Shyke Smalls with a team-high 12 points … The Bulldogs were held to just 14 percent from the 3-point line while only connecting on four.
By Eric Montgomery, NAIA Media Coordinator