GREENVILLE, SC. - For the third straight year Randall University is the National Champion of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) DII, after an 86-84 win over host school Bob Jones University (BJU). Number 1 seeded Randall had a tough road to the championship game. In fact, the combined scores at the end of regulation for all three games had the Saints only +3. In the first round the Saints had a rematch with 8 seed Kentucky Christian College (KCC), who they defeated to win the 2016-2017 National Championship. Randall trailed most of the game against KCC, and were down 10 with just over 4 minutes to go. Randall stormed back and won thanks to a Trey Sneed bucket, stepping through First-Team All-American Hayden Dunn with 9 seconds left to win 78-77. Then the Saints had to play the 4 seed Johnson University of Tennessee, who also lead most of the game. Randall came back and forced overtime. The Saints took control in extra time and won 95-88. All of that lead to the championship game vs. host school and 2 seed Bob Jones University. In order to win a third straight National Title, Head Coach Mark Berokoff and the Saints would have to win on the road for the first time. The announced attendance of 2,774 was almost entirely pro BJU other than a small but loud contigent of Randall supporters that made the long trip to South Carolina. The Bruins were even given the home bench, home spot on the scoreboard, and had their starters announced last.
1st Half - For the third straight game the Saints opponent jumped all over them from tip-off. Bob Jones took advantage of the fiery home atmosphere and took a 9-0 lead. The Saints battled back and eventually took their first lead with under 12:00 remaining in the first half when Senior Forward Trey Sneed (Edmond, OK/Edmond Memorial High School), the 3-time National Player of the Year, drove and finished despite a foul. Sneed missed the free throw but the Saints still took a 19-18 lead. The Saints would hold that lead for the rest of the half, extending it to 47-32 at one point on a Sneed step back 3-pointer. After Bob Jones scored, Junior Point Guard Brad Ficken (Adelaide, Australia/Tatachilla Lutheran) drove by Nate Ellenwood of Bob Jones, as he was able to do for much of the game, and finished a layup around the help defender to make it 49-34. BJU finished the half strong, however, and were able to cut the lead to 52-44 as both teams headed to the locker room. The Saints were lead in the first half by their two leading scorers on the season, Sneed and Senior Guard Xavier Hunter (Oklahoma City, OK/Del City High School) who both played all 20 minutes in the half. Sneed lead the way with 15 points and 6 rebounds, while Hunter poured in 12 points of his own. Ficken had a great half as well, scoring 8 points on 3-4 shooting, while grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists. Junior Guard Antonio Wilson (Oklahoma City, OK/Douglass High School) made a significant impact as well, as he scored 10 points in 7 first half minutes on 4-5 shooting. Ficken was also tasked with guarding the Bruins best player, Sophomore PG Nate Ellenwood, who had just come off of an incredible 34 point, 12 assist, 11 rebound game in the semifinal. Ellenwood was held to 3-9 from the field in the first, though he did still manage 6 assists. Bruins Junior Forward Jayson Barnhart carried BJU in the first half, scoring 20 of their 44 points on 9-15 shooting.
2nd Half - The Bruins opened the half with the ball, and Senior Guard Justin Matthews sank a 3 on the opening possession to cut the Saints lead to 5. Still, Randall was able to hold its lead at around ten for the first 7 minutes of the half. BJU Forward Quez Fisher cut the lead to 7 with a massive dunk, and the Bruins used that emotion to cut the lead to 70-69 with 10:39 left to play. From then on the game was back and forth. Randall held on to the lead until the 6:24 mark, when Justin Matthews went backdoor for a layup giving BJU a 76-75 lead over the Saints. National Player of the Year, and National Tournament MVP Trey Sneed answered with a 3 to take the lead back, and would go on to score the next 10 points for the Saints. Another 3 from the wing for Sneed, followed by 2 clutch free throws put the Saints in a position to win, holding an 83-79 lead with just over a minute to play. However, Jason Barnhart would get fouled and make both free throws, and following a defensive stop for the Bruins Barnhart would score; and despite elbowing his defender in the mouth, he was given an and-1 opportunity, which he calmly finished to take an 84-83 lead with 30 seconds remaining. The Saints put the ball in the hands of Trey Sneed, and he was fouled before he could get a shot off. Sneed went to the line and was clutch again as he sank both free throws giving the Saints an 85-84 lead. Bob Jones put the ball in the hands of Barnhart, who got past his defender and put the ball up with only seconds remaining for a potentially game winning layup. However, Senior Isaac Bowles (Detroit, MI/Cass Tech HS) came flying in from helpside and blocked the shot off the backboard, then grabbed the rebound himself and was fouled with just over 2 seconds remaining. Bowles made the first free throw, missed the second. BJU was without a timeout and wasn't able to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded, giving Randall an 86-84 win in their third straight National Championship. The Saints struggled from the field in the second half, shooting only 30%. Sneed had another 15 points in the second, along with 2 blocks. Ficken scored 2 in the second, but added 4 more assists and had a huge block on a drive by Ellenwood late in the game. Wilson added 6 more points in the second, and Hunter had 5.
Tournament MVP Trey Sneed had 30 points on the game, along with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Xavier Hunter had 17 points and 3 steals. Antonio Wilson scored 16 points and had 2 steals. Brad Ficken had 10 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds in the game, along with a stellar defensive effort. Junior Guard Kashus Lyons (Abilene, TX/Abilene Christian High School) didn't score in the game, but made a huge impact with 7 rebounds (3 offensive) and 3 assists. Lyons had been so impactful in the two previous games as well, and was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Senior Forward Ben Collier (McAlester, OK/McAlester High School) hadn't scored yet in the tournament, but had 6 huge points thanks to making his only 3-point attempt of the tournament, as well as getting fouled while shooting a 3 and going 3-3 from the line. Isaac Bowles had 7 points and 3 rebounds, as well as the championship saving block.