Buffs advance to National Championship Game with buzzer beater


Zach Toussaint hit his only 3-pointer of the game at the buzzer to send No. 5 West Texas A&M to the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship for the first time in program history with a 87-86 victory over No. 13 Lincoln Memorial on Thursday evening at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.

Qua Grant scored a game-high 25 points as the junior went 10-of-22 from the floor and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Joel Murray had 24 points and three assists while Hayden Blankley made five 3-pointers off the bench for 15 points. Jon'il Fugett scored all of his 14 points in the second half. 
 
WT jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the opening two minutes before LMU went on a 13-3 run over the next four minutes to put the Buffs down eight, 15-8. Grant would go on a 5-0 run by himself a minute later to make it a four-point game, 18-14, at 12:29.
 
The Buffs continued to struggle from beyond the arc as they saw their deficit grow to 14 ,37-23, at the 5:19 mark on a pair of free throws from Xavier Bledson. The deficit reached a game-high 16, 42-26, three minutes later on another jumper from Bledson. 
 
Blankley connected on the Buffs first 3-pointer of the game with less than three minutes left before halftime sparking a 9-2 run. Grant got a steal and layup on the Railsplitters next possession followed by four straight points from Murray to cut the lead to nine at half, 44-35. 
 
Following a layup from LMU's Julius Brown to open the second half, WT went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four, 46-42. Four of the first seven points of the drives came off Railsplitters turnovers including an old-fashioned 3-point play from Murray.
 
The Railsplitters responded with a 6-0 run to push the lead back to double figures, 52-42, at 17:10. The Buffs continued to chip away at the deficit as it was a four-point game, 66-62, with 11-minute remaining in the game on a 3-point play from J. Fugett. 
 
It was 67-66 in favor of LMU three minutes later after Cameron Bell banked in a 3-pointer from the left corner. LMU scored five straight points to temporally halt the Buffs momentum. 
 
The Buffs tied for the game at 79-79 with under four minutes remaining on a 5-0 run including another 3-pointer from Blankley. LMU scored six of the next seven points to lead 85-80 with under a minute remaining before J. Fugett hit a transition 3-pointer. The Buffs would get a steal on the next LMU possession with Murray hitting 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make it a one-point game, 85-84. 
 
WT was forced to foul and send the Railsplitters to the free throw line where Jordan Guest missed the second attempt to give the Buffs the ball with 13 seconds left. Murray saw his driving layup blocked out of bound which gave WT the ball out of bounds underneath the basket with seven seconds remaining. After two timeouts, Grant got the ball just past the 3-point line and drove the lane putting up a floater that banged off the rim and into the air. Neither team was unable to grab the rebound until it fell into the hands of Toussaintt beyond the arc, who made arguably the greatest shot in WT men's basketball history. 
 
The Buffs will face No. 4 Northwest Missouri State in the NCAA DII Championship on Saturday, March 27. Tip is scheduled for 11 a.m. and will air on CBS.  

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