Finalists rally for Friday night wins

Brett Witchow pulls up for a jumper against Wisconsin (or UW-Madison) in a November exhibition game. (UW-Oshkosh athletics photo)
Brett Witchow scored 18 points for UW-Oshkosh in the Titans' season opener vs. Piedmont at Wheaton (Ill.).
UW-Oshkosh athletics file photo

The No. 1 and No. 2 men's teams each survived would-be upset attempts, while No. 4 St. Thomas got a top 10 win on the road in Division III women's basketball action on Friday night, which opened the first full weekend of the 2018-19 Division III basketball season. Nebraska Wesleyan, the defending national champ, pulled away for a win at Carroll, while last year's runner-up, UW-Oshkosh, defeated Piedmont.

The Prairie Wolves (2-0) trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and trailed coming out of the locker room for the second half as well before going on a 20-7 run to open the half. Nick Penny's fifth 3-pointer cut Carroll's to one, but Jack Hiller and Nate Schimonitz hit back-to-back 3's to extend the lead back out to seven with 1:09 left and put the game away, 70-64. Hiller and Schimonitz hit five 3-pointers apiece and finished with 25 and 17 points, respectively. Penny led the Pioneers (1-1) with 22 points.

With two games under its belt already, Piedmont went back-and-forth with No. 2 UW-Oshkosh for the first 31 minutes of the game and took a 60-58 lead when Taylor Mills hit a 3-pointer with 9:00 left in the game. But the Titans scored the next nine points and went on to win, 86-77. Ben Boots scored 19 points, 16 of them in the second half, while Jack Flynn scored a game-high 20. It was the Titans' first regular-season game under new head coach Matt Lewis.

No. 24 UW-Whitewater used a 13-0 run late in the second half to pull away from 25th-ranked St. John's in a back-and-forth affair, posting an 83-72 triumph at Kachel Gymnasium. The Warhawks (2-0) turned a 57-55 deficit with 7:24 remaining into a 68-57 advantage three minutes later as senior guards Andre Brown and Mitchell Pfeifer scored 11 of the 13 points during the spurt.

No. 23 St. Olaf fell to 0-3, as No. 6 Whitworth cruised to a 75-55 win in a classic at George Fox. Whitworth (1-0) shot 55.1 percent from the floor and recorded 36 points in the paint, while allowing just 20 points in the paint for St. Olaf, as the Oles shot 34 percent from the floor. Whitworth ended the first half outscoring St. Olaf 24-8, including 13 points in a row. Ben Bishop scored a team-high 14 points for the Pirates.

Sam Toney scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half to help lead No. 16 New Jersey City to a 76-67 win at Eastern Mennonite. The Gothic Knights evened their record at 1-1 on the season. Toney shot 7-for-11 from 3-point range and 10-for-19 from the field to break open a game which had been tied 40-40 at the break.

Jordan Glover scored 13 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, leading TCNJ to an 85-79 come-from-behind victory over Cazenovia at Nazareth. The Lions and Wildcats both evened their season records at 1-1.

Women's basketball: St. Thomas gets Top 10 road win

No. 4 St. Thomas took a long trip to the west coast for its first game of the season and handed No. 10 George Fox its first loss, 76-73. Lucia Renikoff scored seven of her game-high 20 points during a game-closing 17-6 run over the last 4:00 of the game as the Tommies overcame 29 turnovers, battling through George Fox's pressing defense. The Bruins (2-1) shot 22-for-23 from the foul line. Hayley Hutzler had 15 points and eight rebounds for George Fox.

The Bruins converted those Tommies turnovers into 38 points and built an eight-point lead with under five minutes to play. The Tommies pulled within one point only to see George Fox extend the lead back to five on four straight free throws. But the St. Thomas scored the next eight points to grab the lead 74-71 with All-American Hannah Spaulding tallying four points and a blocked shot during the crucial stretch.

George Fox pulled within one point on two free throws but the Tommies inbounded the ball and found Macy Hatlestad who made two free throws to push the lead to 76-73. George Fox managed a desperation heave at the buzzer that was just off the mark.

Spaulding finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out. The Bruins had four players score double figures including Kylin Collman who had seven steals.

In other women's action No. 12 Illinois Wesleyan held No. 15 Wartburg to six points in the second quarter and built a 10-point halftime lead en route to a 68-52 win. The Titans (1-1) converted 28 Wartburg turnovers into 32 points. Sydney Shanks scored 17 for Illinois Wesleyan.

Bridgette Mann scored a game-high 18 points to lead the way, as No. 8 Scranton rolled to a 70-58 win over King's. The Lady Royals opening the third quarter on an 11-2 spurt to take a what turned out to be insurmountable 50-29 lead with five minutes to go in the period. Freshman Hannah Kowalski was impressive in the first game action of her collegiate career, as she came off the bench and scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

After a 10-7 first quarter, the fourth quarter was a completely different story, as No. 22 UT-Dallas outscored No. 18 Washington U. 39-24 in the final period for an 86-77 win. Amber Terry scored 11 of her 13 points in the final quarter as the Comets streaked to 11-for-15 shooting in the final 10 minutes. It was the first game of the season for each team. Madeline Homoly led the Bears with 22 points.

A Maddie Schmitz bucket with two seconds left in double overtime was the difference in St. Benedict's 77-75 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan. Schmitz finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds in 53 minutes for the Blazers (2-0). Klaire Phillips had 15 points, six steals and five rebounds in 50 minutes for the Prairie Wolves (1-2).

Rochester Tech defeated TCNJ 64-57 in a rematch of last year's second round NCAA Tournament game, which the Tigers also won. Sabrina Wolfe had 19 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes for Rochester Tech (3-0). Points were at a premium but Capital finished with enough of them in a 39-34 season opening victory over Oberlin. Regan Stonerock made six field goals for the Crusaders, equaling the total scored by the rest of Capitals' starters. Hamline improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1986-87, rolling past North Central (Minn.) 78-47. The Pipers start their season with five of their first six games against members of the UMAC and haven't won more then five games in a single season since 2014-15.