Whitworth Falls to Virginia Wesleyan in OT of NCAA Tourny

Photo by Andrew Smith (Wis.-Whitewater)
Photo by Andrew Smith (Wis.-Whitewater)

WHITEWATER, Wis. – DJ Woodmore made a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds to play in overtime to clinch a 74-71 win for sixth-ranked Virginia Wesleyan over seventh-ranked Whitworth in the sectional semifinals of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament on Friday night at Kachel Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The Pirates' (26-4) season ends with their third straight trip, and fourth overall, to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.  The Marlins (27-3) advance to play host UW-W in the sectional final on Saturday.

The final seconds of overtime were a flurry of activity after the Bucs trailed 66-63 early in the extra period.  Felix Friedt gave Whitworth a 69-68 lead with less than a minute to play, but Donald Vaughn hit a short jumper with 31 seconds left.  Without taking a timeout, Wade Gebbers drove for a basket to give the Pirates their final lead with 19 seconds left.  VWC did not take a timeout either and Chris Teasley  scored the last two of his game-high 27 points on a short floater with 8.8 seconds left.

Finally taking a timeout, Whitworth set up a final shot, but lost possession when the ball got away from Jack Loofburrow with seven seconds left.

But Dustin McConnell appeared to make the defensive play of the season for the Pirates when he stole the inbounds, gained possession and drove to the basket despite heavy contact by the Marlins' defense.  The officials called a jump ball as McConnell was tied up from behind with under two seconds left.  The arrow favored Virginia Wesleyan.

Whitworth had a chance to win the game in regulation after taking a 61-58 lead on McConnell's layup with 1:44 left.  But the Pirates missed the front end of one and one opportunities twice in the final 1:14.  Teasley made two free throws to tie the game with 21 seconds to go.  Whitworth's Idris Lasisi drove to the basket as the clock ran off, but lost possession and wasn't able to pass or shoot as time expired.

The Pirates trailed at halftime for only the fifth time this season, 35-30.  The Marlins took a lead at the break thanks to 5-8 shooting from three-point range.  Teasley hit two of those threes for VWC.  The Marlins had a chance to breakaway when they led 27-21 with the ball.  But Lasisi grabbed a long rebound and fed a breaking Mack Larkin for a layup.  Meanwhile Friedt was having trouble getting untracked, missing six of his eight field goal attempts in the first half.

But Whitworth opened the second half on a 10-2 run with Friedt scoring six of those points.  The Pirates took their largest lead when Loofburrow's third three-pointer of the game gave them a 51-45 advantage with just under ten minutes to play.  But the Marlins then used an 11-3 run to retake a 56-54 lead five minutes later.

Friedt scored 18 of his team-high 25 points after halftime in the final game of his outstanding career.  He added 10 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season.  Loofburrow finished with 13 points off of the bench, while Wade Gebbers scored a dozen and Lasisi had 11.

Teasley made 11 of 18 from the floor for the Marlins, including 3-6 from three-point range, for his 27 points.  Vaughn added 20 points and both VWC players had six rebounds.  Woodmore, the 2012 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Year, finished with 16 points.