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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Monty Wilson finished with a game-high 39 points on 10-of-16 shooting to lead the way for defending national champion and No. 14 seed Georgetown (Ky.) to top Wayland Baptist (Texas) 97-90 on Wednesday in the first round of the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship in Municipal Auditorium.
The point total was the most in a game at the national championship since 2012 and sends the Tigers into the second round for the 12th time since 2000.
"Monty Wilson has had some pretty good games in this gym and he stepped up tonight making big free throws and big plays," said Georgetown head coach Chris Briggs. "The first game out here is always the toughest and you're getting used to the daily grind and you have to get comfortable.
"We got stops when we needed to and obviously our defense needs to improve if we plan to advance. There was too many times where they just outhustled us. I think it comes with rhythm and getting back to playing games. We did a good job with their field-goal percentage in the first half and kept them down."
Holding a 6-5 lead at the 18:09 mark, Georgetown saw the Pioneers erase it by rattling off a 13-4 run to go up by 10. It ended up being the largest lead of the game for either team.
But the resilient Tigers battled back to take a 45-40 lead into halftime. Shooting was key for Georgetown as it went 18-of-36 from the field, while Wayland Baptist connected on just 14-of-37 shots.
The second half turned into a back-and-forth affair with nine ties and six lead changes.
With less than five minutes to play, the score was tied at 79 as the teams traded 3-point baskets. A trey by Wayland Baptist's Royal Crouch again knotted the score at 85-85, but it would be the final tie of the game as Deondre McWhorter made a basket to help the Tigers finish the contest on a 12-5 run.
Wilson poured in 27 points in the second half, including a 9-0 run all by himself when the score was tied at 70 late in the contest. The former national tournament MVP added five assists and four rebounds.
McWhorter and Noah Cottrill each finished with 15 points for Georgetown.
Markus Monroe led the way for the Pioneers with 26 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Crouch complimented Monroe with 25 points and eight boards.
The Tigers face the winner of No. 3 William Carey (Miss.) and Philander Smith (Ark.) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET in the second round.
Wayland Baptist finishes its season at 23-11 overall.