KANSAS CITY - Lindenwood University basketball coach Brad Soderberg has enjoyed plenty of father-son moments with Kramer, the Lions' multi-talented junior point guard.
But Wednesday might have topped them all.
Kramer Soderberg scored 27 points, including an eight-for-eight performance at the foul line down the stretch, to lead the Lions to a 78-72 victory over St. Catharine in the opening round of the NAIA Division I National Tournament at Municipal Auditorium.
Lindenwood (29-5) advances to face No. 3 seed Mountain State University (30-3) in the Sweet 16 game on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Kramer Soderberg helped the Lions to a 33-of-40 effort (83 percent) at the foul line. That turned out to be the difference in the game. St. Catharine (22-9), from Springfield, KY, hit just nine of 16 from the line.
"I was real proud of him as a dad today," Brad said. "As long as I can remember, he prefers the bigger games. He stepped up and made big free throws."
Kramer, who attended St. Charles West High, received plenty of help in the school's first Division I Tournament appearance.
Sophomore Alex Bazzell, also from St. Charles West, added 14 points and seven rebounds. Richard Rose, from Troy, scored 13 points. He hit nine of 11 free throws. David King grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
"The thing about tournament play is you have to find a way to just survive and advance," said Brad Soderberg. "Now that we've got the nervousness and jitters out of the way, we can prepare for Friday."
Thanks, in part to Kramer, the Lions are in the Round of 16.
"I'm confident when I'm at line," said Kramer Soderberg, who was a perfect 11-for-11 at the stripe.
Lindenwood put together a 5-0 run to take the lead for good, 65-64, on a short jumper by King with 3:21 remaining. Brett Thompson added a five-footer seconds later to pump the advantage to 67-64.
The Lions then made 11 of 12 foul shots over the final 1:52 to hold off the Patriots.
Marquis Lee led St. Catharine with 18 points. Xavier Keeling added 16 points in a losing cause.
Lindenwood scored 11 unanswered points to grab a seemingly safe 57-47 lead with 14 minutes left. Soderberg, Bazzell and Alfred Nelson each big shots to trigger the blitz.
But St. Catharine battled back to take 64-62 advantage on a three-pointer from Brandon Johnson.
"We knew when we got up by 10 that they would make a run at us," said Kramer Soderberg.
But the Lions had the answer. King and Thompson hit big baskets. Lindenwood then put the game away at the line.