Men's champs, runners-up get run in opening round

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Everything Wartburg threw up seemed to fall in a first-round win vs. Benedictine, while Chrishawn Orange hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Augustana past defending national champion St. Thomas.
Photos by Ryan Coleman and Larry Radloff,

Three of last year's Final Four teams got bounced on the opening night of the 2017 Division III men's basketball NCAA Tournament, including both the defending champion and last year's runner-up.

Which Final Four team's first-round result was most surprising?
Amherst losing to Keene State
Benedictine's rout by Wartburg
Christopher Newport rolls vs. Morrisville State
St. Thomas ousted by Augustana at the buzzer

Crishawn Orange hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to cap an 11-point rally in the final minute and lead Augustana to a 77-74 win over St. Thomas at UW-Whitewater, eliminating the Tommies (19-8) on an opening-round playoff game on a buzzer beater for the second time in three years. Northwestern (Minn.) knocked off St. Thomas with a 3-pointer as time expired in 2015.

St. Thomas took its biggest lead at 74-66 with one minute to go. The Vikings (20-8) hit two layups and forced a turnover that turned into another layup to cut their deficit to 74-72 with 25 seconds to go. Will Dunn missed two free throws and Augustana made two, tying the game with 10 seconds remaining. An offensive foul on the Tommies gave the ball back to Augustana with 3.7 seconds left and Orange drove down and hit a shot from the top of the key for the win.

Meanwhile, across the state in River Falls, the 2016 national runner-up was run out in a rout. Wartburg hit 16 3-point shots, including going 9-for-11 from beyond the arc in the second half, as the Knights rolled to a 92-66 win vs. Benedictine. Seven players hit from long range for the Knights (19-9), who were the sixth seed in the six-team Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament. Nick Webber, who set the tone with two 3-pointers early, finished with a team-high 22 points in the win. It's Wartburg's first NCAA Tournament win since 1991. 

Maurquis Turner had plenty of room to get off his 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left for UW-Whitewater.
Photo by Larry Radloff, 

Maurquis Turner hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 left to take the lead and UW-Whitewater made sure there were no last-second heroics for Northwestern (Minn.) this year, as the Warhawks held on for an 85-81 win. UW-Whitewater knocked away the inbouds pass with 0.3 left and a second pass hit the ceiling, allowing Turner to hit two free throws to seal the win. Derek Rongstad scored a team-high 29 points. Cody Sprenger was looking to be the hero for Northwestern, as he scored his 30th and 31st points with 10 seconds left, before Turner's 3. UWW did not have a lead in the second half until just 51 seconds remained. The Warhawks will face Augustana on Saturday in the second round.

Ty Nichols hit a 3-point shot in the closing seconds to lift Keene State to the second round for the second year in a row, knocking Amherst out of the tournament with a 69-66 loss. Eric Conklin hit a jumper with 1:45 left to give Amherst a 66-64 lead, but the Purple and White did not score the rest of the way, going 0-for-3 from the floor in their final two possessions.

Deshon Burgess scored a game-high 30 points and Greg King added 20 as Union kept its February 2017 run going into March with an 89-83 win vs. Wesleyan at the University of Rochester. The Cardinals cut the lead to three points on a Jordan Bonner three-point play with 24 seconds left but got no closer as the Dutchmen led for the final 25:54 of the game, improving to 17-10. Harry Rafferty scored a team-high 24 for Wesleyan (19-7), while Bonner added 19. 

The second game at UW-River Falls was a contest that didn't want to end. Alex Herink was fouled at the end of regulation and hit two free throws with no time on the clock to send the game into overtime. Bethel led by four with a little over a minute left in the first overtime and had Trevor Hall at the line to shoot two after Grant Erickson was whistled for an intentional foul, keeping Hall from a breakaway to the basket. But Hall missed both free throws and Bethel would not even get a shot off the rest of the period. Bridgeport Tusler turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, allowing Devin Buckley to hit a layup with 54 seconds left to cut the lead to two. The Falcons' Matt Keller stole the ball with 24 seconds left and fed Garrett Pearon for a basket to tie the game, after which UW-River Falls held off Bethel in the second overtime to win, 94-92.

Brian Sortino scored a game-high 27 points, but it wasn't enough as Scranton defeated Oswego State 82-77 in overtime. John Vitkus led the Royals with 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting, while Ethan Danzig went for 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Endicott advanced to the second round for the second year in a row, winning the Battle of the Gulls 71-68 vs. Salisbury in a first-round game at Neumann. Kamahl Walker hit a layup advantage with 21 seconds left to give Endicott the lead for the final time and hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds. One last inbounds play with 0:02 on the clock was Salisbury's only hope for a game-tying miracle, but the pass was batted away by Gulls' two-sport student-athlete Chris Lipscomb, channeling his best leaping tight end in the end zone impression. Nichols bounced No. 11 Neumann to set up an all-CCC second round as DeAnte Bruton scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Bison to a 96-93 win on the road. Marcos Echevarria went 10-for-10 from the foul line, including two with 12 seconds left to help clinch the win. 

Aldin Medunjanin scored a game-high 23 points and Edvinas Rupkus added 20 as Skidmore advanced into the second round with a 79-71 win vs. New Jersey City at Babson. The Thoroughbreds were just 5-for-19 from 3-point range but made up for it by going 30-for-38 from the line, including a combined 21-for-23 by Medunjanin and Rupkus.

Lycoming placed five scorers in double figures, led by David Johnson's 17, as the Warriors advanced with an 86-70 win vs. Cabrini. The Cavaliers (19-8) turned the ball over 27 times in the loss.

Guilford's Kyler Gregory came off the bench to lead the Quakers with 13 points as they advanced to the second round with a 74-54 victory over Thomas More at Marietta. Gregory's 13 points came on 5-of-9 shooting, adding three rebounds. Dominque Henderson added 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting with all four baskets coming from 3-point range. Marietta avoided the first-round upset bug this time around, as the Pioneers easily handled Calvin and sent coach Kevin Vande Streek back to focus on his duties as the chair of the Division III men's basketball championships committee. Dillon Young scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the first half on 7-of-7 shooting, including five 3-point baskets in the 83-66 win.

Faced with the task of slowing down one of the higher-powered offensive teams in the nation, North Central (Ill.) put the brakes on Wooster just well enough to secure a 77-72 victory in a first-round game at Hanover. Wooster came in scoring more than 85 points per game, and while Dan Fanelly scored a game-high 23, his teammates shot a combined 19-for-46. 

Robbie Walsh scored a team-high 18, leading four scorers in double figures as Swarthmore extended its first-ever Division III NCAA Tournament trip for another night, defeating Staten Island 86-61. The Garnet faces Christopher Newport in the second round, after the Captains sailed past Morrisville State 81-45. 

Washington University overcame a 15-point second half deficit to defeat Ripon going away, getting past the Redhawks 87-72. Ty Sabin ended his career with a game-high 43 points, finishing with 2,559 for his career. Sabin is the No. 11 all-time scorer in Division III men's basketball history. The Bears will face host Hope, as UW-Oshkosh's surprise selection turned into a first-round exit. Hope watched an 11-point second half lead cut to two with 1:22 left, but Cody Stuive hit two free throws and a layup in the final seconds by the Titans was all academic as the Flying Dutchmen won 87-85. 

Kendrick Morris scored 24 points to lead Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to a 78-73 win over 8th-ranked Whitworth in a first-round game at Whitman. CMS won a first-round game in 2015 as well, which was the SCIAC's first tournament win since 2008. The Stags will face the host, No. 1 Whitman, after the Blues held off Rhodes 111-98 in the final first-round game of Friday night.