14th-ranked Crusaders earn national NAIA berth

William Carey hoops to open with Peru State College on March 21 in Kansas City, Mo.

14th-ranked Crusaders earn national NAIA berth

HATTIESBBURG, MS (WDAM) - For a fourth consecutive season, William Carey University will be heading to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national men’s basketball tournament.

The Crusaders (22-9), ranked 14th in the NAIA’s national Top 25 poll, earned an at-large bid into the 32-team field and will take on Peru State College at 5:45 p.m. March 21 at Municipal Arena in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Carey will be making its 13th trip overall to nationals.

The Bobcats (23-10), located in Peru, Neb., won an automatic berth by winning the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament championship. Peru is back at nationals for the second consecutive season and 16th time in program history.

The national NAIA tournament field is broken into four, eight-team brackets: Naismith; Duer; Liston; and Cramer. Teams are seeded one through eight in each bracket, meaning the field has four number one seeds, four number two seeds, etc.

Carey is the No. 4 seed, Peru State, No. 5, in the Cramer bracket. The winner of their game will face the winner of the opening-round game between the bracket’s top seed, Tougaloo College, and its eighth seed, Mid-America Christian University from Oklahoma City at 5:45 p.m. March 22.

The Crusaders have three players averaging 11 points or more, including 6-foot-4 senior swingman Leito Holloway (12 points per game), 5-11 senior guard Adrian Williams (11.6 points, 7.4 rebounds a game) and 6-8 senior swingman Branden Sheppard (11.6 points, 8.9 rebounds a game).

The Bobcats have been led by 6-foot-8 senior forward Lyle Hexom, who averaged 20.6 points and 10.3 rebounds a game and 6-6 senior swingman Brandon Jones, who averaged 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.

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