Kalsow beats buzzer

By Pat Cummings, D3hoops.com

SALEM — Jason Kalsow’s jumpshot with two-tenths of a second remaining propelled UW-Stevens Point (29-5) to their first national championship with a win over 2003 national champions, Williams (30-2), 84-82.

“I didn’t catch it right where I wanted and had Ben Coffin in my face,” Kalsow said in describing the final shot, “I knew I just had to get it up high. And I did.”

Nick Bennett, son of UWSP head coach Jack Bennett, led all scorers with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, the day after he suffered a severely bruised knee in the national semifinal against John Carroll. Kalsow ended his junior season with 24 points.

“I feel good,” laughed the younger Bennett, “I would have had to break my leg to keep me from playing, and even then I’m not sure.”

Williams led 79-78 with 3:09 remaining when a block by Nick Bennett and an eventual Tamaris Relerford steal led to a Bennett jumper with 2:38 left. Following a 30-second timeout, Chuck Abba nailed a 3-pointer from the right-wing to give the Ephs a two-point advantage. The Ephs would not score again.

Eighteen seconds later, Kalsow drove to the hoop and scored to tie the game with 1:17 to play. Williams took a timeout with 52 seconds remaining and Tucker Kain, who had hit six of 12 attempts from beyond the arc, missed his thirteenth try.

The Pointers pushed down the court and Jack Bennett contemplated calling a timeout.

“I asked my assistants, ‘should we call a timeout, should we call a timeout?’ and we decided, quickly, to go with the flow,” said the Pointers’ coach of eight seasons.

The loss for the Ephs was only their second of the season and the first loss to a team other than Amherst since 2002.

“We talked all year about if we end up on the short end of the score, we didn’t want to lose, we wanted to get beat,” said an emotional Ephs coach, Dave Paulsen. “I thought Stevens Point played a great game.”

Tucker Kain had 23 points and eight boards while Abba added 21. Williams’s senior point guard Michael Crotty had 15 points and 11 assists.

“You never want to lose, but the one thing I take away from this,” said Crotty, “we lost to a tremendous bunch of guys who are incredibly classy players and an incredibly classy coach.”

Stevens Point led 38-33 at the end of the first 20 minutes. Kalsow paced the Pointers with 11 in the first half as the Pointers shot better than 47%, whereas Abba and Crotty each hit nine for the Ephs who shot 38% for the opening stanza.

“Someone would have to yield, and no one did,” Bennett proclaimed. “I am so proud for the tradition of Stevens Point basketball, and everyone else who has played there and for me.”

“On this earth, it doesn’t get any better than this.”