Langston Roars By defending NAIA national champions College of Idaho To Advance To First Ever Title Game

By Kyle Taylor – Langston Sports Information

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Once again defense was the story of the night and again the vaunted Langston defense came out in full force as No. 1 seed Langston University defeated No. 1 seed and defending NAIA national champions College of Idaho 58-52 in the 86th Annual NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship Fab Four round on Monday night. The Lions advance to the NAIA National Championship game for the first time in program history.

The Yotes entered tonight’s matchup at 32-3, boasting four players in double figures in Samaje Morgan (14.3 ppg), Johnny Radford (12.2 ppg), Drew Wyman (11.5 ppg) and Jake O’Neil (10.1 ppg) but the Lions held College of Idaho to 35 percent (19-of-53) from the field and three-of-17 from three-point range. Langston also held the Yotes to its fewest points of the season, their fewest prior to that was 64 points on December 30th in a win over Eastern Oregon.

“They’re (College of Idaho) extremely well-coached and they stretch you defensively with how they shoot the three,” head coach Chris Wright noted of College of Idaho. “You add in a dynamic point guard and they’re tough to cover. I thought our guy’s ability to stay with the game plan, to believe in what we were doing, to get big stops when we needed them was huge for us.”

Senior guard D’Monte Brown said the team prides itself on being the tougher team, day in and day out.

“We’ve always been the toughest team, we started this back in August, our practices are hard, and Coach (Wright) stays on us to be prepared for this moment,” Brown said. “They (College of Idaho) came out to play, it was close in the first half, but we knew we were the better team, we just had to show it.”

Tied at 52-52 with 44 seconds left, Anthony Roy hit Jay Allen-Tovar for layup inside to put Langston in front 54-52 with 29 seconds left.

Langston broke the game open on the ensuing offensive possession when Roy batted away a loose ball towards G’Quavious Lennox, who in turn lobbed it to Cortez Mosley for a breakaway slam dunk to put the Lions ahead for good.

Mosley led Langston in scoring with 14 points on six-of-14 shooting and Brown chipped in 12 on five-of-seven shooting. Collectively, Langston hit 38 percent (23-of-60) from the field and outscored College of Idaho 16-11 in bench points, 32-26 in points in the paint and 11-9 in points off turnovers.

While Langston University will be making their first appearance in the NAIA National Championship game, it will be the second title game appearance for head coach Chris Wright. Wright led Talladega (Ala.) to the 2022 title game where they fell 71-56 to Loyola (La.). The second-year head coach noted what he’s learned as a coach and leader since then.

“Since getting to Kansas City, I’ve enjoyed this experience so much more than I did the first time with Talladega,” Wright said. “I was miserable to be honest, I was happy to win but I didn’t enjoy it, I survived it. When I was hired here, (former Langston University president) Dr. (Kent J.) Smith made me promise that if we ever went on a run like that at Langston that I would enjoy it. When we won the second-round game at our place I said I’m going to enjoy whatever happens the rest of the way.”

The Lions improve to 35-1 overall and advance to the NAIA National Championship game on Tuesday night, March 26, in Municipal Auditorium. Langston faces Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (31-4) who advanced to the championship by way of defeating Grace (Ind.) 86-81 on Monday night.

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A lifelong sports fan and follower of HBCUs, Willie Alexander Hines is an expert on any sport with tremendous recall of history and newsmakers.