• Kale Steed

Buffs roll Daeman, advance to Final Four

West Texas A&M guard Joel Murray (13) blows past Daeman defender Sean Fasoyiro during an NCAA Division II Elite Eight matchup Wednesday at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. [Trevor Fleeman/ For Press Pass Sports]

For only the second time in program history, and the first time since 2018, the West Texas A&M men’s basketball program has advanced to the Final Four.

The Buffs did that by dismantling Daeman, 97-83, in an NCAA Division II Elite Eight quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.

“We didn’t celebrate too much after the game,” said WT coach Tom Brown during his postgame press conference. “But I told them to enjoy it. They are really ready to go for this next game. That’s what they want. They have that mentality, so win or lose we’re going to give it everything we got, and leave it on the court.”

The top-seeded Buffs (18-2 overall) now get set for a national semifinal matchup against No. 4-seed Lincoln Memorial at 6 p.m. Thursday night. The Railsplitters (19-3) knocked off Colorado Mesa 90-76 in their quarterfinal matchup Wednesday.

WT shot an incredible 55.6 percent from the field, and were 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. The game was never in doubt as WT ran a lead up to as many as 24 in the first half, taking a convincing 56-32 advantage into halftime.

Junior sharp shooter Joel Murray was incredible for the Buffs. Murray’s quickness gave No. 8-seed Daeman (10-6) fits. With a mismatch at hand Murray went off for 24 of his game-high 31 points in the opening 20 minutes of play. Murray finished the night going 13-of-26 from the floor, and 4-of-5 on free-throws.

“We’re very motivated,” Murray said. “When you look back at what happened to us when we lost here two years ago when I was a freshman, it still sits with me. We just take it game by game, and I’m doing what I need to do.”

Murray’s counterpart and guard Qua Grant shook off a slow start. After scoring six points at half, Grant heated up in the second half with a 14-point effort to tally 20 points in the win. Jon’il Fugett also got in on the scoring pouring in 22 on 8-of-12 shooting from the field.

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