Thanks to the last-second dramatics of one Chrishawn Orange to cap a dramatic comeback, there will be a new champion in NCAA Division III men’s basketball.
St. Thomas can commiserate with Bethel and Northwestern (Roseville). All three Twin Cities schools in the D-III men’s tournament lost first-round heartbreakers in Wisconsin.
A year after winning it all, St. Thomas is out after the first round after blowing an eight-point lead with 41 seconds left and losing 77-74 to Augustana (Ill.) on Friday in Whitewater, Wis., when Orange hit a three-pointer as time expired.
The Tommies (19-8) led 74-66 on John Veil’s jumper, but they didn’t score again. Augustana scored the final 11 points, getting three layups and two free throws before Orange’s buzzer-beater while St. Thomas missed two free throws and turned the ball over twice.
After Veil’s jumper, Augustana’s Nolan Ebel was fouled as he made a layup. He missed the free throw, but the Vikings (20-8) got the rebound and found Ebel for another basket.
Orange then stole the inbounds pass and scored again to make it 74-72. St. Thomas’ Will Dunn was fouled with 17 seconds left, but he missed both free throws.
Ebel was fouled with 10 seconds to go and hit both free throws to tie the score. He then drew a charge from Veil with 3.6 seconds left. With Augustana inbounding from its own end, Orange dribbled up to the top of the key and hit his shot as time expired.
Wisconsin-River Falls 94, Bethel 92 (2OT): Alex Herink, the WIAC Player of the Year, hit two free throws with no time left in regulation and finished with 32 points for the host Falcons (24-3), who used a 7-0 run in the second overtime to end the Royals’ season.
With UW-River Falls, the fourth-ranked team in D-III, down two in the final seconds of regulation, Devin Buckley missed a layup, but Herink grabbed the rebound and was fouled right before time expired. He made both free throws to tie the score at 71-71.
Bethel (21-6) led 80-76 with 1:31 to go in the first overtime, but Garret Pearson’s layup with 19 seconds left tied it at 80-80.
In the second OT, Bethel led 85-83 with 2:33 to go, but the Falcons scored the next seven points, including four more free throws by Herink, who finished 15-for-16 at the line.
Wisconsin-Whitewater 85, Northwestern (Roseville) 81: Maurquis Turner hit a go-ahead three-pointer from the right corner with 1.1 seconds to play as the host Warhawks (22-6) completed an exciting night on their home floor by rallying vs. the Eagles (19-8).
The Warhawks, who trailed 72-64 with 4:02 to play, tied it at 77-77 with 1:09 to go, and the teams traded the lead from there.
Aaron Youngberg hit two free throws for the Eagles, but UW-Whitewater followed with a Scotty Tyler three-pointer. Cody Sprenger made a layup with 10 seconds to go for an 81-80 Northwestern lead.
Not calling a timeout, the Warhawks found Turner for an open three that put them up 83-81. Northwestern’s first inbounds pass was deflected out of bounds, and its second hit the ceiling for a turnover. Turner then made two free throws for the final points.
St. Thomas 98, Wisconsin-Superior 56: Lauren Fischer broke a school record with seven three-pointers and scored 23 points and the host Tommies improved to 28-0 by opening the NCAA Division III tournament with a rout of the Yellowjackets (23-5).
St. Thomas, which shot 60 percent from the floor, will play Chicago (19-9) in the second round Saturday after the Maroons beat Wartburg 67-63.
DePauw 67, Gustavus Adolphus 57: Taylor Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds and the Tigers (27-2) ended the Gusties’ season in Oshkosh, Wis. The Gusties (25-3) shot only 34.5 percent from the floor, including 4-for-20 from three-point range.
No. 10 West Virginia 87, No. 24 Iowa State 76: Daxter Miles Jr. had 23 points and the host Mountaineers (24-7, 12-6 Big 12) clinched the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament by beating the Cyclones (20-10, 12-6).
No. 16 Miami (Fla.) 56, No. 8 Florida State 54: The Hurricanes (23-7) beat the Seminoles (25-6) in Conway, S.C., to reach the ACC tournament semis for the second year in a row.
No. 3 Notre Dame 76, Virginia 59: The Irish (28-3) beat the Cavaliers (19-12) in the ACC quarterfinals, setting up a semifinal with No. 14 Louisville on Saturday.