WHITEWATER, Wis. -- UW-Whitewater broke from the gate with a 13-2 run to establish a lead that Wheaton College (IL) was never able to recover from Friday in a NCAA III Tournament sectional (third round) game in Williams Center in Whitewater Friday night. UW-W, 26-4, will play Virginia Wesleyan, 27-3, Saturday at 7:00 in Whitewater for the right to advance to the Division III final four in Salem, Virginia March 16-17. Virginia Wesleyan defeated Whitworth College 74-71 in the first game Friday night.
Whitewater senior center Chris Davis scored the first six points of the game on the way to the 13-2 lead. Wheaton recovered to close the gap to five points twice, the second at 17-12 at 10:01. The Warhawks inched up the margin, and then closed the half with a 9-2 surge to take a 36-20 halftime lead.
Whitewater shot 60% from the field in the first half, continuing the shooting that propelled them to regional wins last week when the Warhawks shot 69% in their win over Northwestern (MN) and 61% in a win over Saint Thomas.
Wheaton turned the tables in the second half, starting with an 11-2 run that saw Whitewater's lead shrink to 38-31 at 15:34. Whitewater's lead vacillated from seven to ten points for the next five minutes. The Thunder pulled within 59-54 at the end of a 6-0 run with 1:59 left, but UW-W closed out the game 8-2 as Wheaton was forced to foul to stop the clock.
Whitewater forced 20 Wheaton turnovers. The Warhawks also made the most of the free throw attempts, hitting 16-24 while Wheaton shot seven, making four.
Senior forward Alex Edmunds led both teams with 16 points for UW-W. Davis added 14 and a game high nine rebounds, with sophomore guard Eric Bryson adding ten points and a game high four steals. Wheaton was led by senior forward Tim McCrary with 15 points and eight rebounds. Jeremy Pflederer and Nate Serenius, a senior and junior guard, added 13 and 12 points respectively.
Wheaton ends the season 23-7.