– The University of St. Thomas erased an eight-point halftime deficit, then held on for an 82-79 victory over Williams (Mass.) in the NCAA Division III men’s basketball quarterfinals Friday.

Will DeBerg, a senior guard, led the way with 20 points for the No. 1-ranked Tommies (30-1), who are seeking their second national championship in three seasons. Zach Riedeman added 15 points, while John Nance had 10 points and six assists in the victory.

St. Thomas will play at 5 p.m. Saturday against Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), which defeated St. Mary’s of Maryland 69-66 in another quarterfinal game, with a trip to the Division III title game in Atlanta on April 7 at stake.

The Tommies went 15-for-25 from three-point range Friday, tying a school record for most threes made in a game. DeBerg made three of those in the second half, helping St. Thomas rally from a 47-35 deficit late in the first half.

The Tommies’ depth also helped, as they forced Williams (26-5) into 11 second-half turnovers and had a 20-9 edge in bench scoring. St. Thomas pulled ahead for good at 64-63 with 8:36 remaining on two Riedeman free throws and Williams never got closer than three points the rest of the way.

staff reports