Bowlers Edged by Lindenwood in National Title Match

RENO, Nevada (April 18, 2014) – It wasn’t supposed to end like this. The Urbana University men’s bowlers were the Cinderella darlings of the 2014 Intercollegiate Team Championships. The week started with Blue Knight Graham Fach bowling the first 300 game and 800 series of the 2014 Open Championships. Then, smallest school in the draw got hot and took down bowling Goliaths from Robert Morris University and Wichita State University.

Destiny seemed to be smiling on Urbana until a couple of tenth frames didn’t go the Blue Knights’ way in Friday night’s National Championship match with Lindenwood University. After losing the first two games by a total of seven pins, Lindenwood completed the three-game sweep in the best of five series with a 201-167 victory in the decisive game. The third-seeded Lions had their second national title in school history. The fourth-seeded Blue Knights narrowly missed out on the school’s first national title in any sport in the team’s first appearance in the Intercollegiate Team Championships.

Urbana suffered a devastating blow in Game 1. The Blue Knights led by a single pin heading into the tenth and final frame. Both teams had converted spares in the ninth. Urbana bowled first in the tenth and lefty closer Graham Fach rolled seven, spare, nine. Lindenwood turned their one-pin deficit into a one-pin lead with a nine on the first ball. After picking up the spare, the Lions needed eight to tie, or a nine to win on the final ball. A convincing strike delivered the Lions a tight 204-202 victory.

Game 2 followed a similar, tight path, but this time, Urbana found itself trailing by three pins heading into the tenth frame. Lindenwood rolled first in the tenth, scoring a strike, a six and a spare. The door was left open for the Blue Knights, who needed at least two strikes and a four to even the series. Unfotunately, a nine on the first ball ended those hopes and had the Blue Knights trailing 2-0 in a race to three wins.

Game 3 was another close battle until Urbana left the seventh and eighth frames open. Lindenwood converted easy spares in both frames to build their insurmountable lead and clinch their second team title.

The Blue Knights’ runner-up finish is further than any other Urbana University athletic team has advanced on a national stage. Also, the majority of this year’s squad are underclassmen, meaning Urbana will be the early favorites to bring home the hardware in 2015. Blue Knights Graham Fach, Brock Finch and James Tucker III have also helped strengthen the program’s reputation by qualifying as individuals in the Intercollegiate Singles Championships over the past two years. Tucker III finished qualifying in 16th place this week before bowing out in the match play bracket. Fach was named the 2014 Tournament MVP, and he represented UU on the All-Tournament Team.  Other members of this year's incredible dream team include Andrew Allen, Kyle Mayberry, Dustin Johnson, Kyle Cook and Chase Carter.

Another perk of advancing to the finals is the national television coverage. The men's team final will air on national television for the first time on Tuesday, May 27th at 8:00 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.