BOISE, Idaho — Since mid-January, the College of Idaho men's basketball team has been tabbed as the best in the land. The Yotes made it official Saturday night, taking down Indiana Tech 73-71 to win the NAIA National Championship.
This year's run under Cascade Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year Colby Blaine has been nothing short of remarkable. The Yotes only lost their first game of the season back in November 2022, and ended the title campaign on a 36-game winning streak.
In Saturday's win in Kansas City, C of I jumped out to a quick 17-4 lead over Indiana Tech. Middleton native and sophomore forward Tyler Robinett scored nine of the first 17 Yote points on three-for-three from behind the arc.
Halfway through the first frame, College of Idaho was shooting 61.1% from the field, and led the Warriors 23-10. A second-chance three ball from Samaje Morgan extended the margin to 34-13.
Morgan and Robinett both started perfect from the field on three shots apiece to lead the way, and the Yotes took a 45-26 advantage into the locker room.
In 21 of its 37 games this season, C of I led its opponent by double digits. The Yotes shot 56.7% from the field in the first 20 minutes.
Coming out of the locker room, the Warriors outscored the Yotes 10-7 in the first five minutes, and cut C of I's lead to 60-47 with 11:44 remaining. The well-balanced Yotes earned 25 of their first 60 points from the bench.
Despite four players scoring in double figures and a near double-double from all-Cascade Collegiate Conference honoree Jake O'Neil, Indiana Tech hung tough, pulling within 10 (62-52) with less than 10 minutes to play.
The contest remained 10-points apart with just 3:30 left, before another Yote opponent closed the gap in the final seconds. On Friday, C of I blocked a potentially game-tying three-pointer to defeat Ottawa in the Fab Four.
On Saturday, Indiana Tech pulled it to 70-68 with one minute left, before a big-time layup from standout Drew Wyman. The Warriors also had a shot to tie the game at the buzzer, but the Yotes prevailed, winning 73-71.
For the first time since 1996, the national title trophy is heading home to Caldwell. The nation's top NAIA team finished on top, winning its 36th-straight game in style.
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