Dec. 8, 2009

By Amy Farnum
NCAA.com

BEAR TRACKS:
Top-ranked Washington (Mo.) University cruised through the championship game of the 26th Annual Lopata Classic, hosted by the No. 1 Bears, as they downed Pomona-Pitzer, 76-50, to improve to 5-0 on the year.

Graduate student Sean Wallis averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists per game en route to being named the Robert L. Burnes Most Valuable Player Award as the Bears claimed the 26th Annual Lopata Classic championship. He shot 65 percent (13-of-20) from the field, including 50 percent (5-of-10) from beyond the arc, in the two victories.

Wallis had 20 points and five assists in an 82-67 victory over NAIA No. 5 ranked McKendree University on Friday, and then scored 17 points and dished out eight assists in a 76-50 win over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in the championship game on Saturday. Wallis, who became the 26th player in Division III history to record 600 or more assists, leads the conference in assists (8.2 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.1).

The unbeaten Bears look to remain perfect when they host No. 6 Wheaton (Ill.) College on Dec. 9.

PASSING THE TEST: 
In its toughest test of the early season, Virginia Wesleyan College made the grade as the Marlins knocked off No. 4 Guilford College, 71-68, in an Old Dominion Athletic Conference tilt on Dec. 5.

Junior forward Quantrell Simmons tallied 20 points, shooting 63.6 percent from the field, while senior Stephen Fields added 19 points and six assists as the Marlins won their third straight contest.  The victory gave 10-year head coach David Macedo his 199th career win.

STRONG START: 
No. 15 Middlebury College tied its best start in program history after moving to 7-0 following a 20-point victory versus Union on Dec. 5.  The Panthers matched the 1917-18 and 2005-06 squads for school-best start.

Middlebury sophomore forward Ryan Sharry of Braintree, Mass., averaged 15.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game during a 3-0 week for the Panthers. Sharry shot .613 from the floor while recording seven blocks, four steals and four assists during the stretch.

The Panthers will now enjoy an extended winter break before returning to the court on Dec. 30 at Rensselaer.

HOT STREAK: 
Since a season-opening overtime loss to Austin College, UT Dallas has reeled off seven straight victories, including a 99-83 victory at Howard Payne University on Dec. 5 that moved the Comets to 4-0 in American Southwest Conference play.

In addition to shooting 57 percent from the field at HPU, Scott Rodgers was one of five players scoring in double-figures as he poured in career-high 28 points, including 11 straight in the first half.  He is averaging 23 points in UTD’s last four games.  The senior ranks fifth in the ASC with a 17.9 scoring average.

The team will take a two-week hiatus before resuming play against McMurry University on Dec. 20.  The Comets are outscoring foes by 16.9 points per game since falling in their season opener.

JUMP SHOTS:  For the first time in 87 years, St. Norbert College has started the season with a perfect 6-0 mark following a 70-58 win over Monmouth College in Midwest Conference action over the weekend.  The last time the Green Knights began 6-0 was during the 1922-23 season when they posted an 8-0 mark.  St. Norbert has won 36 of its last 47 contests … Gustavus Adolphus College junior guard Phil Wirtjes hit a 50-foot shot with 0.8 seconds left in overtime as the Gusties downed Concordia College of Moorhead, Minnesota, 57-54, on Dec. 5.  Check out this amazing shot on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_MUfQ5M8G4