UWW MEN’S BASKETBALL...We Are The Champions!
If it wasn't the best comeback in Warhawk history it was without a doubt the most important. Trailing by eighteen points in the second half, UW-Whitewater used a 17-2 second half run to defeat Cabrini College 63-60 for the NCAA Division III championship at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia Saturday night.
UW-W picked a bad time for its lowest scoring first half of the season, equaling the team's season low of 21 points in the second half versus UW-Stout in Menomonie January 21.
Cordell Young's driving layup at 12:14 gave UW-W at 10-10 tie. UW-W did not score for the next 4:47 seconds, while Cabrini tallied eleven points for a 21-10 lead at 7:47. Sophomore guard Alex Merg broke the drought with a three at 7:27. The Cavaliers bumped the lead to 29-17 when Jeremy Knowles stole the ball at the top of the key and went the length of the court for a layin. Cabrini took a 31-21 lead into the lockerroom.
Whitewater was held to 26% shooting from the field, including 1-9 from three point range. For the first time this season, Warhawk leading scorer Chris Davis was held without a field goal in a half. Cabrini, at 33%, wasn't burning up the nets but used a 26-16 rebound advantage for second opportunities. Alex Merg led UW-W with seven points in the half, with senior point guard Cory Lemons scoring seven for the Cavaliers.
The first half was troubling, but the start of the second didn't offer any hope. Senior guard John Boyd scored the Cavaliers' first ten points of the second half and Cabrini started the half on a 16-5 run to lead 47-29 with 14:43 left in the game.
As bleak as it looked, that was the beginning of the end for Cabrini. UW-W coach Pat Miller inserted freshman guard Quardell Young. Young scored six of the next eight points for Whitewater in a 10-0 run that extended to 17-2. During that stretch the Warhawks held Cabrini without a point from 14:43 to 10:55. Alex Edmunds put in a rebound to pull Whitewater within 49-41. Davis followed with a three from the top of the key to make it 49-44, and another Young driving layin with 9:35 on the clock ended the run and closed the gap to 49-46. An Edmunds layup made it a one point game at 51-50 with 6:50 left, and after a pair of Cabrini free throws Edmunds responded again, this time with two free throws to keep it a one point game, 53-52 at 5:04. It was a Davis three-pointer at 3:19 that tied the game 55-55.
Freshman guard Aaron Walton-Moss' returned the lead to Cabrini, 57-55 with a drive down the right side of the lane at 2:14. With 1:52 left Edmunds, again, hit a pair of free throws to knot the game at 57-57. Davis hit a fallaway in the lane for a 59-57 lead with 1:10 left. With 1:00 remaining Davis made the lead 61-57 with free throws, but Boyd reappeared, hitting a shot as he was falling in the lane, and adding a free throw for a three point play that made it 61-60 Whitewater with 0:44 left, and Cabrini called a timeout. Edmunds' reverse layin in traffic put the Warhawks up 63-60 with 0:16 on the clock. With ten seconds left Cabrini called time. Boyd got off a contested three, and a long rebound was picked up by a Cabrini player who threw up a desperation attempt that didn't draw iron.
Whitewater upped its field goal shooting to 41% for the game, but continued to struggle at the arc, going 4-19. Cabrini shot 34% for the game, going 5-22 from three point range. It was the free throw line, where the Warhawks were 19-24 to 11-15 for Cabrini, that fueled much of the comeback and helped overcome a 46-32 Cavalier rebound advantage.
Four Warhawks bunched up in double figures, with Davis leading with 12. Edmunds (5-7 FT) and sophomore guard Alex Merg scored 11, and Young ended with ten. Boyd led all scorers with 18 points, and Walton-Moss was also in double figures with 14. Sophomore center Jon Miller, who fouled out with 8:13 left in the game, grabbed a game high 11 rebounds.
Salem's city slogan is "Virginia's Championship City". It might also be called Whitewater's championship city, with the basketball title following women's volleyball in 2005 and football in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. UW-W is 6-3 in championship games in Salem.
UW-Whitewater becomes the first school in Division III history to win the national football championship and a basketball (men or women) title in the same year. The University of Florida (2006) is the only school in NCAA history -- any Division, to win football and men's basketball championship. The University of Tennessee won FBS and women's basketball titles in 1998.