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Yotes win national championship

The Yotes defeated Indiana Tech 73-71 to lock up their first national championship since 1996. (Credit: College of Idaho){p}{/p}
The Yotes defeated Indiana Tech 73-71 to lock up their first national championship since 1996. (Credit: College of Idaho)

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College of Idaho men's basketball is coming home from Kansas City, with a national championship.

The Yotes won the NAIA National Championship, defeating Indiana Tech 73-71. It's the team's first national championship since 1996 when they were called Albertson College.

C of I took command of the game early, jumping out to a double-digit lead within the first six minutes. By the end of the half, the Yotes' lead was up to 19.

As the second half progressed, the Warriors fought their way back into the game, slicing the Yotes' lead to 10 with 9:28 to go. The Yotes were still able to keep a large lead over the Warriors, until the final two minutes.

With 2:15 to go, the Yotes led 70-61. That lead quickly evaporated; Indiana Tech made a layup, and five consecutive free throws to trim the deficit to 2.

The Yotes were able to inch ahead with a layup from guard Drew Wyman, but the Warriors immediately fired back with a layup of their own.

With 0:19 left, the Warriors had the ball, down 70-72, with a chance to tie or take the lead. It looked like the Warriors would tie when Grant Smith was fouled with 0:12 to go.

Smith made his first free throw, but missed the crucial tying free throw, with Wyman grabbing the board. The Warriors immediately had to play the foul game on Wyman, and he went 1-2 from the line.

The Yotes held a slim 73-71 lead with Wyman's free throw. With one possession left, Indiana Tech had a chance to tie or win the national championship. On the Warrior's final possession, Grant Smith charged down the court, taking the final shot of the game with seconds to spare.

It didn't fall.

Yotes guard Straton Rogers, a Rocky Mountain High grad, leapt up, securing the rebound, and as time expired, he threw to ball into the air exuberantly.

C of I won the national championship, finishing its season 35-1, ranked the No. 1 team in the country. Interestingly, the Yotes only loss came to Arizona Christian, who beat them 82-78 in the Yotes' season opener.

College of Idaho now has two NAIA national championships, and the Yotes will go into next fall, looking to defend their title.

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