DALLAS – Nolan Harvey's three-pointer as time expired in overtime gave the University of Texas at Dallas a 78-77 win over Whitworth in the second round of the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament on Saturday night at the UTD Activity Center.
The 16th-ranked Comets improve to 27-3 and advance to the sectional semifinals for a game with Wisconsin-Whitewater next Friday. The 12th-ranked Pirates finish the season 23-6.
UTD was able to win despite the fact that Whitworth shot 54% from the field while holding the Comets to 35%. But UTD benefitted from a large advantage at the free throw line and a season-high number of foul calls (27) against Whitworth.
"This was one of the rare games where one team can shoot well from the field and holds the other to well below their season average and still can't win," said Whitworth head coach Matt Logie. "I'm really proud of our guys because I felt we did what we needed to do to win."
The Pirates started strongly, led by senior guard Dustin McConnell. His three-point play gave Whitworth a 16-8 lead early in the first half. UTD fought back to take a 28-27 lead on a jumper by Chris McOmber with three minutes left in the first half, but the Bucs closed on an 8-0 run which included McConnell's three just before the buzzer. He finished the first half with 18 points.
The Pirates took control of the first ten minutes of the second half. George Valle hit back to back three-pointers to give Whitworth its first double digit lead (43-32) and the Pirates extended the advantage to 56-41 with just under ten minutes to play on a basket by Taylor Farnsworth.
But then UTD went on a 17-1 run to grab momentum. Kyle Schleigh, the American Southwest Conference Player of the Year, scored 23 of his game-high 25 points after halftime. His three-pointer gave the Comets a 58-57 lead with 4:21 to go and Harvey's free throws extended the lead to 60-57 seconds later.
UTD still led 64-61 with 26 seconds left when McConnell nailed his only basket of the second half, a long three-pointer with 19 seconds left, to send the game to overtime.
Whitworth appeared to take control early in overtime, going up 71-66 on another Valle three-pointer. The Bucs still led 77-72 with 27 seconds to play, but made only 1-3 at the free throw line in the final seconds. The officials reviewed Harvey's three-pointer on video for several minutes before concluding it was released in time.
Fans rushed the floor twice, first after the three-pointer was made and again after the officials ruled it was good.
"UTD made a great run in the second half to get back into the game and you have to tip your hat to them," Logie said.
McConnell led Whitworth with 22 points, while Valle finished with 20 points and eight rebounds. Farnsworth had 15 points and eight boards and Colton McCargar closed his Pirate career with ten points. Whitworth made 31-57 from the field, including 8-20 from three point range. The Bucs did not get into the bonus in the first half and didn't make it into the bonus until one minute was left in overtime. They were 7-12 from the free throw line.
Schleigh was 6-21 from the field, 2-7 from the three-point line. But he went 11-13 from the charity stripe for almost half of his 25 points. Harvey finished with 18 points, as did Dmitry Chernikov, who was 9-12 from the free throw line. The Comets were 28-38 from the charity stripe as a team to overcome 22-63 from the field.
McConnell, McCargar and Robbie Douglas concluded their Pirate careers with four consecutive Northwest Conference championships and four straight appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament.
"Our seniors did all we could ask of them in this game," Logie said. "But we've got a lot of guys in the locker room looking for answers right now."