By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- CJ Adams joked after a Culver-Stockton College men's basketball game two weeks ago that whenever he starts scoring points, his team starts losing.
That was indeed the case during C-SC's 91-72 victory over No. 5-ranked Lewis-Clark State on Thursday in the first round of the NAIA Division I national tournament.
As many of his teammates struggled from the field in the first half, Adams scored nine straight points to help ensure C-SC trailed just 30-28 at halftime.
"I told you. What did I tell you?" Adams joked afterward when reminded about what he said two weeks ago.
Adams' teammates heated up in the second half to help C-SC run away with its first national tournament victory since 1946.
"That's when I stopped scoring," Adams said.
Truthfully, though, C-SC's second-half surge might have been a moot point without Adams keeping the Wildcats in the game early.
"I felt like somebody had to step up and shoot the ball and score, right? I was just there," said Adams, who finished with a season-high 15 points and was 6 of 9 from the field.
Adams was named the Heart of America Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Year, but he's no slouch offensively.
He averages seven points per game and shoots 43.9 percent from the field. Yet, he's comfortable staying in the background offensively for the most part unless C-SC is struggling for production.
"That really doesn't bother me," Adams said. "I don't look to be the all-star on the team. I look to play my role, and I know my role on this team."
Junior forward Jermaine Jones served as a nice sidekick to Adams in the first half. Jones, who averages 5.9 points per game, scored six points in the first half and wound up with 11.
"(Adams) and Jermaine, you can't forget about them," C-SC coach Jack Schrader said.
Having some fun with it: C-SC senior guard Austin Keaton scored all 25 of his points in the second half and made seven 3-pointers after halftime. It was such a remarkable 20 minutes, even the public address announcer at Municipal Auditorium had to have a little fun with it.
After Keaton drained his final trey, which was a long, contested jumper from the left wing, with 1:50 remaining, the PA announcer didn't stick to the standard "Austin Keaton for three" line. Instead, he opted for, "Dropping bombs from 3-point range, Austin Keaton!"
Prepared for a long stay: If the Wildcats last until Tuesday's championship game, there shouldn't be any need for an emergency shopping trip.
The national tournament is a one-loss-and-you're-out format, but the Wildcats came to Kansas City planning on a long stay.
"We packed until Tuesday," C-SC senior point guard Marshawn Norris said. "Everybody's got like three or four bags -- suitcase, bookbags, duffel bags. We're ready. We're here until Tuesday."
C-SC coach Jack Schrader said he should have plenty of dress shirts to last the trip.
"My wife did the packing for me," Schrader deadpanned. "I've got enough."
Up next: C-SC will face Concordia (Calif.) at 2:15 p.m. Friday in the second round. The Eagles (23-10) advanced with a 92-86 first-round victory Thursday over No. 12-ranked William Carey (Mass.). It extended Concordia's winning streak to seven. Tim Harris led the Eagles with 21 points, and Dakota Downs added 20 points and nine rebounds.
Harris, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, paces Concordia for the season at 17 points per game. Downs, a 6-6 senior forward, is supplying 16.5 points and a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game. Peter Smith, a 5-11 senior guard, is averaging 13.8 points per game.
Concordia averages 85.2 points per game and shoots 39.2 percent from 3-point range, led by Harris' 43.4 percent clip. Concordia entered the national tournament ranked fifth in NAIA Division I in scoring and fourth in 3-point percentage.