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basketball-men-d3 flag | February 28, 2014

DIII: No. 2 Wis.-Whitewater moves to WIAC Championship, defeats UW-La Crosse

WHITEWATER, Wis. -- The Warhawks topped Wisconsin-La Crosse 76-73 in Kachel Gym to advance to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship on Sunday for a chance to earn the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The game was a battle throughout with the teams exchanging bursts of momentum. The largest lead in the first half was nine points, by UW-W at the 9:10 mark after a three-pointer by KJ Evans made it 22-13. A three-point play with four seconds left in the half by La Crosse's Calahan Skogman gave the Eagles a one-point advantage, 34-33 heading into intermission.

Both teams shot well in the first 20 minutes with the Warhawks making 14-28 (50 percent) compared to UW-L's 13-27 (48 percent). The Eagles enjoyed an 18-13 advantage on the boards which UW-Whitewater negated forcing four more turnovers.

Skogman nailed a jumper in the first minute of the second half to give the Eagles a 36-33 lead but the Warhawks came roaring back with a 14-2 run to push the edge back into their favor, 47-38 with 13:31 remaining. The lead hit double figures for a short period of time midway through the half. With the score 61-51 in favor of Whitewater with 7:43 left, UW-La Crosse scored 10 of the next 12 points highlighted by Luke Tweed's eight points, to narrow the gap to two, 63-61 with 4:26 to go. Reggie Hearn dropped in two free throws to give the Warhawks a four point cushion but a free throw and a quick jumper by the Eagles brought UW-L within one, 65-64 with under three minutes to play. Alex Merg drained a jumper from downtown followed by a steal and fastbreak layup by Eric Bryson and UW-W took a six point lead. Merg made it eight in a row for the Warhawks with two free throws with 1:46 left in the game and Whitewater leading 72-64. UW-W warded off the late surge by the Eagles to seal the 76-73 win.

The essential stat of the second half was points in the paint. UW-W outscored the Eagles 20-8 in the lane in the second half. The Warhawks shot 55 percent from the floor making 30-55. La Crosse was 25-52 (48 percent) from the field adding seven 3-pointers in the game.

No. 1 Wisconsin-Stevens Point 66, Wisconsin-Platteville 47

STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- Wisconsin-Stevens Point used a 15-0 run in the middle of the second half to pull away from Wisconsin-Platteville an advanced to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Tournament championship game with a 66-47 win in the semifinals on Friday night at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse.

UW-Stevens Point (25-1) led by double digits after scoring to open the second half but UW-Platteville (16-11) cut the deficit to two with 12:36 remaining. However, the Pointers held the Pioneers scoreless for the next 6:24 as part of a 15-0 run that saw UWSP take a 57-40 lead and the Pointers led by at least 14 the rest of the way.

The win sends UW-Stevens Point to the WIAC championship game on Sunday afternoon where the Pointers will face UW-Whitewater, who topped UW-La Crosse.

No. 4 Illinois Wesleyan 76, Carthage 71

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Illinois Wesleyan held off a determined Carthage to earn a 76-71 win at the Shirk Center in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament semifinal on Friday.

IWU improved to 23-3 overall and will face Wheaton (18-8) for the tournament title and the automatic NCAA tournament berth on Saturday.

In a game that saw 13 ties and nine lead changes, Illinois Wesleyan fell behind by as many as seven points at 31-24 with 5:34 to play in the first half. A 7-0 Titan run tied the game at 31-31 with 3:30 to go in the first and IWU had a 36-34 lead at the break.

The game was tied at 50-50 with 11:00 left in the game when IWU had a 13-4 run to grab a 63-54 lead with 7:09 remaining and held on the rest of the way, leading by as many as 11 on two occasions, the latest at 70-59 with 4:06 left. Carthage clawed back to within three points at 74-71 with 23 seconds left and had the ball, but an errant 3-point shot gave the ball back to IWU.

IWU held a commanding 35-26 lead in rebounds and IWU had 12 turnovers to 11 for Carthage.

No. 6 Cabrini 96, Neumann 79

RADNOR, Pa. -- Cabrini raised its fifth consecutive Colonial States Athletic Conference championship banner Friday at Nerney Field House with a 96-79 win against Neumann. With the win, the Blue and White punches its ticket to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the program's 12th appearance in the big dance.

The Cavaliers improved their overall record to 25-1, marking the fourth time in program history the club has recorded at least 25 wins, all four coming in the last five years. The victory also improved the Blue and White to 69-1 on its home floor in the past five seasons.

Junior Aaron Walton-Moss earned the game's most outstanding player honors after posting 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. He hit 11-17 from the floor to go with a pair of steals and no turnovers in his 36 minutes of play. 

Fellow junior Vinny Walls tallied 31 points in the win, recording his sixth consecutive game with at least 25 points. Walls knocked down 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Senior Fran Rafferty added 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting and six rebounds in winning his fourth consecutive title.

Both teams exchanged buckets in the early minutes as Neumann held a slim lead. With 16:18 left in the opening half, the Cavaliers trailed 12-8. A lay-up by senior Jon Miller spurred the Blue and White on a 9-0 run and Cabrini never looked back.

Cabrini shot 58.1 percent from the floor in the first half, including 5 of 12 from three point range, as the Blue and White extended its lead to as many as 13 points after Walls' 3-pointer with 5:49 left in the period. After 20 minutes, the Cavaliers held a 46-36 lead.