March 7, 2009

ELMHURST, Ill. - The Elmhurst College men's basketball team's season came to a close in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a heartbreaking 81-79 overtime loss to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Trailing by one with under four minutes to play in the extra period, Elmhurst (20-8) grabbed the lead on a Brent Ruch lay-up with three minutes to go. UW-Whitewater (23-5) reclaimed the lead with 2:09 left on the clock on a Dustin Mitchell lay-in. A pair of free throws from Ruch put Elmhurst back up 79-78 with 1:49 left.

A pair of free throws from Tyson Kingsby gave Whitewater an 80-79 lead with 1:34 left. After an Elmhurst miss, Kingsby split a pair of free throws to give the Warhawks an 81-79 edge with just 1:14 left on the clock.

A missed 3-pointer by the Bluejays gave the Warhawks the ball with 48 seconds to go. Kingsby drove down the lane with the shot clock winding down, but Chris Childs blocked the shot for the Bluejays, giving Elmhurst one last chance. The Bluejays grabbed the rebound and moved down court, but with time running out, Ryan Burk's 3-point attempt fell short, giving the Warhawks the win.

UW-Whitewater led 46-48 at halftime and built an 11-point second half lead before Elmhurst rallied. Trailing by 10 with 11 minutes to play, Elmhurst rattled off 11 straight points to take a 66-65 lead with eight minutes remaining. Whitewater managed to knot the score at 70-all with just under five minutes remaining. After a three minute scoring drought for both squads, the Bluejays reclaimed the lead when Burks tipped home a missed shot. The Warhawks evened the score at 72-all with 1:30 left on a Kori Vernon lay-in. A Ruch lay-up gave Elmhurst a 74-72 edge with under a minute left, but Matt Goodwin evened the score with a lay-up with just 32 seconds left to play. The Bluejays held the ball for one shot, but Burks' long 3-pointer bounced out, sending the game to overtime.

The back-and-forth contest featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes.

Whitewater was led by Myles McKay's game-high 30 points. McKay shot 12-of-23 from the floor and added a team-high nine rebounds in the win. McKay did the bulk of his damage in the first half, netting 25 points in the game's opening 20 minutes. Whitewater got solid contributions from Mitchell and Chris Vines off the bench. Mitchell totaled 15 points and six rebounds while Vines added 11 points. Kingsby and Kori Vernon added eight points apiece for the Warhawks.

Ruch led the Bluejays with a team-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Burks added a double-double, recording 22 points and 10 rebounds. Childs came off the bench to score 11 while Zack Boyd finished with 10.

Elmhurst finished the game shooting 49.3 percent (28-of-58) from the floor, but just 25.0 percent (5-of-20) from beyond the arc. Whitewater shot 49.2 percent (31-of-63) from the field, but only 26.7 percent (4-of-15) from 3-point range.

UW-Whitewater will face defending national champion Washington University in tomorrow's regional championship game at 7:00 p.m. Washington edged Lawrence University 67-65 in the tournament's first game.