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If Keith Adkins was looking for an off-season motivational tool, he may have found it.
Adkins' team's run at a national tournament finals berth was cut short Monday night in Kansas City by Oklahoma City University 78-64. But that didn't take any of the edge off an exciting end to a 26-10 season.
"This was a great effort," said Adkins. "No complaints. We will leave with a big smile on our face. This is sad for the three seniors. These guys won't get to be a part of this next year and that hurts. These guys will look back in a week and say, 'wow.' Most players would love to have a chance to end their careers on this stage."
Oklahoma City is in a position to defend its NAIA national tournament title from last season. The Stars become the first team since Kentucky State in 1970-1972 to advance to the title game in three straight seasons. They played Mountain State on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City shot 54 percent and held the Tigers to 37 percent from the floor. Campbellsville, which had found its offense once it arrived in Kansas City, was held to 8-31 shooting from beyond the arc.
"The last couple of nights we have been really, really good on the defense end," said Oklahoma City coach Ray Harper.
It was a bit of revenge for the Stars who had been beaten by 19 points in the Powell Athletic Center in November.
Nestor Colmenares had posted a double-double in every national tournament game until Monday night when the Stars held him to 4-10 shooting from the field and 5-9 from the free throw line.
It was shooting the ball, a strength of the Tigers through three rounds, that was their bugaboo in the semis. Only a 21-point night out of Long (5-11 from the three-point line) kept Campbellsville close.
Leading 13-11 in the first half, Oklahoma City outscored the Tigers 22-12 before intermission to take a 35-23 lead. The Stars' lead ballooned to 52-36 halfway through the second half when Ollie Bailey stuck in a put-back.
Jordan Benock cashed in a couple of threes and when Troy Harris hit the last of his three baskets the Tigers trailed by 10 at 67-57.
But Oklahoma City hit its free throws down the stretch to keep the Tigers at bay.
"I give our guys credit," said Adkins. "I think we led in the second half and had an opportunity. We battled, but we just didn't get any breaks."
Adkins will return the nucleus of this year's team along with injured starters Kyle Martin and Zach Allender.
"It's exciting to look to next year," Adkins offered to CU radio announcer Bryan Blair in his post-game comments. "This experience will be priceless."
Adkins said his team had expectations prior to the season, but injuries affected the team's success somewhat.
"We didn't have the regular season we thought we would have, but we sure made a nice run in the post season."
- Campbellsville was making its first-ever appearance in the NAIA Fab Four.
- The Tigers slipped to 3-1 against teams from the Sooner Athletic Conference in 2007-2008.
- Campbellsville was looking to become the third unseeded team in the last four years to win the NCAA Division I Championship.
- Georgetown, the undefeated Mid-South Conference regular season and tournament champion, missed out on its title shot. The Tigers lost to Mountain State 78-65.