NAMPA, Idaho — For the first time in program history, Northwest Nazarene University earned an NCAA bid to the Division II Men's Basketball Championships.
"It's what we dream of growing up," Kobe Terashima, NNU junior said. "We'd always watch the March Madness tournament growing up so it is fun to be able to be a part of that this year."
“It means a lot it is just so much more fun to go out knowing that we did something that is the first in school history," Sam Roth, NNU redshirt senior said. "It brings a lot of joy to me especially to do it with these guys.”
The last time NNU made a postseason tournament was the 1998-99 season when they were still in the NAIA.
“It has definitely sunk in," Paul Rush, NNU's men's basketball coach said. "It's really exciting to be able to keep playing basketball. We were telling the guys yesterday there are only 48 teams at our level that are still playing and to be one of those and to practice and get ready for games this weekend is really exciting.”
"This selection show that we just had was pretty fun," Roth said. "I have never been a part of something like that and it was fun to see everyone excited once we got into the tourney,"
After having their season delayed twice and the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 this opportunity means even more to the team.
"These guys have gone through a lot from the quarantines to the isolations to the canceled practices and scrimmages to the canceled games so it is really special," Coach Rush said. "But it is even more special to really have something to be playing for right now."
The Nighthawks finished the season 11-4 and started off the season by upsetting Division I Portland State.
NNU will face No. 4 seed Point Loma in the first round on Friday.
The Nighthawks are looking for revenge since the last time these two met NNU lost 87-57.
"We played them back in January and it was a tough game. They played really well, so we are really excited about the rematch there," Rush said. "We didn't feel like we played our best, and felt like there is a lot of things we can do differently going into this game and we are excited we get another chance at it."
Tipoff is set for 8:45 p.m. You can watch it live here.