SIOUX FALLS -- A second-half surge sent third-seeded Northwestern into the second round of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Championship at the Sanford Pentagon on Wednesday night.
The Red Raiders, who are in the second round for the second consecutive season, trailed 42-36 to sixth-seeded Bellevue (Neb.), but Northwestern put the clamps on last year's semifinalists in the second half.
Northwestern outscored Bellevue 39-20 after halftime and held the Bruins to just 27 percent shooting from the floor after they hit half their shots in the opening 20 minutes.
Great Plains Athletic Conference Player of the Year Colton Kooima led the way for Northwestern with 30 points as he hit four of his team's six 3-pointers. With that effort, Kooima is now second on the team's all-time scoring list just 74 points behind hall of famer Brandon Woudstra.
Nathan Wedel added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Red Raiders, who hit five of their six 3s after halftime. The Red Raiders made 17 of 20 free throws.
Down seven, 56-49, with 10:45 left, the Red Raiders scored the next eight points en route to a 20-4 run, taking the lead for good on a basket by Wedel.
Bellevue was led by the guard play of Richard Reed and Jalen Hall, who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. The Bruins close the season with a 21-12 record.
Northwestern (26-6) will play Saint Francis (Ind.) on Friday at noon.