Saturday men: Long time coming

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Ben Meinholz and UW-La Crosse scratched a 51 year itch as the Eagles beat Stevens Point for its first WIAC title since 1965.
UW-La Crosse athletics file photo by Jim Lund

UW-La Crosse jumped out to a big lead and held off UW-Stevens Point 55-53 to secure its first WIAC title in 51 seasons.

After Stevens Point (14-11, 7-7 WIAC) scored the first six points of the game, La Crosse (16-9, 10-4 WIAC) answered with a 15-2 run to seize the lead. The Falcons built a 37-22 halftime lead but struggled in the second half, shooting 5-for-24. La Crosse saw its lead dwindle to one point with 1:22 left but the Eagles forced turnovers on the Pointers' next two possessions. La Crosse's Ryan Kruser was fouled with three seconds left. He made the first free throw and missed the second one badly enough that the Pointers could only manage an errant half court shot. Recap

Ben Meinholz led the Eagles with 16 points, six rebounds and six steals. La Crosse claims its first championship since 1965 when the conference was known as the Wisconsin State University Athletic Conference. Defending national champions Stevens Point will be the sixth seed in the upcomig WIAC tournament.

UW-River Falls had a chance to share the WIAC title, but the Falcons fell at UW-Oshkosh 65-62. UW-Eau Claire defeated UW-Whitewater in their regular season finale, pushing the Warhawks into the fifth seed. 

No. 1 Augustana won its second straight CCIW title in dramatic fashion as the Vikings edged Wheaton (Ill.) 103-101 in overtime. Augustana (24-1, 13-1 CCIW) held a five-point lead with 28 seconds left at Wheaton, but the Thunder (5-20, 1-13 CCIW) hit two free throws and then got a Rocky Samuelson three with six seconds left to force overtime. Griffin Pils scored eight of his game-high 27 points for Augustana in the extra period.

No. 12 North Central (Ill.) got 29 points from Kevin Honn in 25 minutes and the Cardinals defeated North Park 84-74. That loss, coupled with Illinois Wesleyan's 77-67 win over No. 13 Elmhurst, gives the Titans the last spot in the CCIW playoffs.

No. 6 Hope made its 100th win over archrival Calvin a memorable one. The Flying Dutchmen topped the Knights 65-61 in Grand Rapids to win its 38th MIAA championship"This is the greatest feeling in the world, especially with what happened last year," said Cody Stuive in reference to the Knights' dramatic win over Hope in the MIAA tournament final last season. Hope (23-2, 13-1 MIAA) will host the MIAA tournament next week and open with Trine on Friday night.

No. 11 Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster will have to share the 2016 NCAC title. The Battling Bishops had no trouble with DePauw, beating the Tigers 81-59. Wooster had a similarly easy time in cruising past Oberlin 97-56. Ohio Wesleyan gets the top seed in the NCAC tournament via the conference's tie breaker rules.

St. Scholastica defeated Northwestern (Minn.) for the UMAC title on Saturday night.
Photo by Abby Schultz, St. Scholastica 

St. Scholastica defeated Northwestern (Minn.) 76-69 and captured its first UMAC title since 2009. Joe Stark had 19 points for the Saints (18-7, 13-3 UMAC) who have won 14 games in a row at home and now will get to stay there through UMAC tournament. Northwestern (20-5, 12-4 UMAC) had won the previous four UMAC titles.

Catholic put itself in position to clinch the top seed in the Landmark Conference as the Cardinals defeated rival Scranton 79-74 in Washington, D.C. Bryson Fonville had a double-double with 25 points and 11 assists as the Cardinals won their seventh in a row. Scranton held a three-point advantage at 71-68 and less three minutes to play after a dunk by John Vitkus, but the big man was whistled for his fifth foul on a technical. Two free throws by Fonville, followed a stop and by a basket by Jay Howard (22 points) put CUA back in front. The Cardinals (19-5, 12-3) can wrap up the top spot Sunday afternoon versus Merchant Marine, in a makeup of a snowed-out game.

There isn't a record in the NCAA record book for this, and the previous team on the unofficial list did it before Division III even existed, but St. Norbert won its 62nd consecutive game vs. Midwest Conference competition on Saturday, winning 72-62 at Cornell. Wheaton (Ill.) won 61 consecutive CCIW games in the 1950s and 1960s. Six of St. Norbert's wins are in MWC tournament games, so the Green Knights will need to start next season 6-0 in MWC play in order to win 62 consecutive conference games. Wheaton's streak long predated the CCIW tournament.

Elijah Wright made a layup in the final seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime and Ted Hinnekamp started the extra session with two 3-pointers as Dickinson ended its regular season with an 88-86 win vs. No. 22 Franklin and Marshall. The Red Devils finish the regular season 13-12 after getting off to a 2-9 start. 

Joey Flannery made a career-high 14 free throws and paced five players in double figures with 27 points to help 20th-ranked Babson defeat MIT, 94-80. With its ninth consecutive win, Babson ends the regular season at 19-5, 13-1 in conference play, while MIT, which is ninth in the most recent NCAA regional rankings, slips to 19-6, 10-4.

Conference tournament play underway

Eric Murdock's triple-double helped TCNJ race past the Ramapo Roadrunners in the NJAC tournament.
TCNJ athletics file photo 

The top seeds all advanced in the NESCAC quarterfinals, as No. 1 seed Trinity (Conn.) defeated Colby and will face Middlebury a week from today in the NESCAC semifinals. Second-seeded Amherst defeated Bowdoin 83-76 and will face Tufts at Trinity in the other semifinal. Connor Green had 29 points for the 16th-ranked Amherst team, as Johnny McCarthy broke a 63-all tie with a 3-pointer with 7:49 left, added a three-point play a minute later and Amherst led the rest of the way. Trinity got 23 from Shay Ajayi, 17 of them in the second half as the Bantams defeated Colby 73-60.

In the first round of the NJAC tournament, Eric Murdock notched a triple-double and TCNJ eliminated Ramapo 105-95. Murdock scored 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 14 assists. The Lions hit 13 three-pointers and will face top-seed New Jersey City in the semifinals. Rutgers-Newark defended its home court and cruised past William Paterson 78-52 in the NJAC's other first round game. The Scarlet Raiders travel to Stockton for the other semifinal.

In the CUNYAC tournament, Jamel Gist poured in 36 points and Egzon Gjonbalaj and Lorenzo Williams added 14 apiece in Brooklyn's 72-62 win vs. York (N.Y.). The third-seeded Bulldogs will face No. 2-seeded Staten Island, which received a double bye to the semifinals. Top-seeded Lehman will face Baruch which eliminated four seed Medgar Evers 91-78.