Kansas City, Mo. — Benedictine sophomore Jaiden Bristol was unstoppable in the second half Thursday night at Municipal Auditorium.
The Central grad put up 26 points in the second half for a career-high 36 points on the night in Benedictine's 90-85 win over Westmont (Calif.) in the first round of the NAIA Basketball Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
Coach Ryan Moody did admit the performance of Bristol wasn't entirely expected to this level.
"We did think he could get downhill against their ball-screen defense," Moody said. "Did we count on him getting 36 points? No, but it was his night and we needed it."
Bristol was grateful to accomplish that feat in his first ever outing in the NAIA Basketball Championship and credited his teammates.
"It felt really good to do that in my first game in the national tournament," Bristol said. "My teammates kept me confident and the bench did as well."
Moody said that Bristol might have been motivated from missing a couple layups early in the game.
"I think he brought it on himself a little bit because he missed two wide open layups early when he tried to get contact," Moody said. "I think that kind of changed his mindset to 'I just need to get there fast.'"
The Ravens went into the locker room down 38-37 to the Warriors and Bristol's impressive second half was ultimately the difference Benedictine needed.
Moody said that this group is no stranger to hard fought and tight games.
"We've been in a lot games where we were down at half," Moody said. "We've been a really effective team of not turning it over in late situations and making free throws late."
Moody's words held up to be true with his team only committing one second half turnover and going 22-27 from the free throw line to keep a late lead.
This is only Moody's second trip to the second round of the NAIA tournament and he said it's no simple task even when you're a top seed.
"Winning the first game in a tournament as a one seed is huge," Moody said. "Making it to day two gets a lot of pressure off us and we can enjoy it more."