Northwestern survives 4OT thriller for UMAC postseason title - Mar 1, 2017
For the second year in a row, the College of St. Scholastica and University of Northwestern met in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) men's basketball tournament championship game, but no one could have predicted what unfolded Saturday evening in Northwestern's Ericksen Center.
After overcoming a 21-point deficit, St. Scholastica forced overtime with the Eagles and it took four extra rounds before the Eagles eventually pulled away for a 112-108 win to capture their seventh-straight postseason title and the conference's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA tournament.
Saturday's title game will go down as an instant classic not only for its finish, but for how it started and eventually ended. The Eagles jumped out to an impressive 19-2 lead with less than five minutes expired in the game. With just 5:59 remaining, the Eagles went up 40-19 and it looked as though the remainder of the game would be smooth sailing.
Holding a sizable 42-28 lead at the half, the Eagles continued to roll to begin the second half. Less than three minutes in, they again pushed their lead to 17 points and did so consistently through the first 10 minutes. The Saints slowed whittled away at the Eagles lead, but didn't get back within single digits until 6:06 left on the clock.
Then, it started to get interesting. Down nine with 1:26 left, the Saints brought the pressure and Collin Anderson (5'11''-PG) and Nate Weets (5'10''-PG) made back-to-back 3-pointers to bring the game within two. Julius Johnson then made consecutive free throws to keep the Saints within two. Following a defensive stop, Johnson drove to the hoop and tied the game at 78-78 to send it to overtime.
In the first overtime, Anderson made another 3-pointer,but the Eagles went up by two with back-to-back buckets from Porter Morrell (6'0''-PG-95) and Cody Sprenger (6'0''-PG-94). However, a foul by the Eagles put Zach Dahlmann at the line to tie the game at 83-83 to extend play again.
The Eagles took a 88-87 lead in the second OT thanks to a Sprenger 3-pointer with two minutes remaining, but Brandon Newman (6'2''-G) hit his third free throw of that five minutes to tie it at 88-88 forcing a third overtime.
In the third overtime, Sprenger and Morrell put the Eagles up 92-89 before Anderson hit another shot beyond the arc giving the Saints a 94-91 advantage. Aaron Youngberg (6'4''-F) responded with his own shot from downtown for the Eagles and Morrell followed with a layup to make it 97-94 in favor of the Eagles.
Anderson then hit another 3-pointer to make it 97-97 before Will Gisler (6'5''-G-94) converted three-straight shots at the stripe. With just six shots on the clock following Gisler's last make, the Saints got Anderson the ball and he hit on a floating 3-pointer with less than a second left to force a fourth overtime with the score 100-100.
The Eagles decided enough was enough as Peter Maring (6'5''-F) scored back-to-back layups to give the Eagles a four-point lead early. Anderson added four more points for the Saints, but the Eagles still maintained their distance and got several made free throws from Giselr before pulling away for good to take it 112-108.
Sprenger and Gisler each led the champion Eagles with 26 points, but Sprnger was named the Tournament MVP for his standout playmaking ability and converting on shots at key points of the game. Sprenger was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and also collected three assists, two blocks and a steal.
Maring finished with his second-straight double-double for the Eagles with 23 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks, while Morrell added 20 points and Youngberg had 14.
Anderson was the star for the Saints off the bench scoring a remarkable 36 points on 7-of-14 shooting from 3-point range. The rookie was also a clutch 5-of-5 from the line and added five rebounds and two steals.
Saints' leading scoring Newman finished with a solid 22 points and six assists, while Weets had 13 points, Kory Deadrick (6'7''-F) had 12 points and Johnson had 11.
UMAC Tournament Final: Northwestern - St. Scholastica 112-108 (4OT)
UMAC Tournament Semifinals:
Northwestern - Minnesota Morris 76-60
St.Scholastica - Bethany Lutheran 90-70
Courtesy of UMAC Athletics