UW-Whitewater rallies back for title
Warhawks’ Davis zero percent from field before winning run
SALEM, Va. -- Unlike the previous night, when he almost singlehandedly eliminated MIT with a brilliant 30-point performance, up to the 14:43 mark of the second half Chris Davis managed two points, no field goal makes and three fouls.
Wisconsin-Whitewater was also trailing Cabrini 47-29.
In a matter of minutes, a seemingly certain loss turned into a 14-minute thrill ride to decide the national championship
“We just emphasized it's a 40-minute game,” Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach Pat Miller said. “We talked about it on the bench: it's a 40-minute game.”
Davis and his teammates eventually hoisted the walnut-and-bronze title trophy on Saturday night after Wisconsin-Whitewater survived two desperation last-second 3-point attempts to down Cabrini, 63-60.
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For Davis, the Most Outstanding Player, it all started when he made a 3-pointer with 10:12 left that pulled the Warhawks within 49-44.
Although his final total of 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting proved modest compared to his normal standards, 10 came during the Warhawks' (29-4) comeback that enabled them to cut the nets.
“Once I make a shot, I think every shot is going to go in after that,” Davis said. “Once I hit that shot, I got into a rhythm and finished strong.”
Cabrini (31-2) started the second half strong, seizing a 47-29 lead on a Jon Miller tip-in with 14:43 remaining. It appeared the Cavaliers were minutes away from capping an improbable comeback of their own, emerging from a string sub-.500 seasons to become a national championship contender when head coach Marcus Kahn took over prior to the 2008-09 campaign.
Then, Miller picked up his fifth foul and Cabrini abandoned the press that triggered its late comeback against Illinois Wesleyan in Friday's Semifinal matchup. Kahn admitted the next 14 minutes became “a tale of two games, a tale of two halves.”
At a time when Pat Miller admitted he was past a Plan A or B and trying to formulate an “E, F, or G” to spark a comeback, Quardell Young sliced through the Cavalier defense for three consecutive scores, pulling the Warhawks within 47-39 with 11:20 left. Eight of his 10 points came during a 26-8 surge that got Wisconsin-Whitewater even at 55-55 on a Davis' trey with 3:19 remaining.
“He definitely took the game over down the stretch,” Davis said
However, Davis ultimately finished off Cabrini's rally after struggling throughout the first 30 minutes. He buried a short jumper to give the Warhawks a 59-57 lead -- their first since a 6-4 advantage 5:51 into the first half -- and then converted two free throws with 59.8 seconds left to make it 61-57.
Less than a minute later Davis and his teammates danced under falling confetti at center court.
Wisconsin-Whitewater's comeback was complete. Three months after the football Warhawks completed a national championship three-peat at nearby Salem Stadium, the men's basketball team hoisted a title trophy of its own.
“Coming here and knowing our football team has won national championships, expectations are high,” Young said. “We came here and got it done.”