Wabash puts their name on the board as the Little Giants celebrate a thrilling 87-86 victory over Emory to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA D3 Tournament. Photo Courtesy of Wabash College Athletics
ATLANTA, GA —Wabash survived two missed shots, including a missed dunk, in the final seconds of Saturday’s NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball second-round game against Emory University to earn an 87-86 victory and a berth as one of the final 16 teams still playing for the DIII national title.
Wabash (26-3) owned a five-point lead after a pair of Jack Davidson free throws with 26 seconds left in regulation. Nick Stuck hit the first of two free-throw attempts for Emory (20-6) on the host Eagles’ next trip down the floor to make the score 87-83 with 19 seconds left. His second try bounced off the iron but the rebound attempt was whistled off the hands of a Wabash player to give new life to Emory.
Emory’s senior guard Matthew Schner took advantage of the second chance by draining a long three-point shot to cut the lead to one point at 87-86 with 17 seconds on the clock. The Eagles immediately fouled Davidson on the inbound, sending the Wabash senior to the free-throw line.
Davidson came into the game ranked sixth in free throw shooting percentage and leads all of Division III in made free throws. The senior guard’s front-end attempt of the one-and-one rolled off the rim for a miss. Schner grabbed the rebound and raced down the floor for a final shot. He put a jumper that missed but landed in the hands of Emory’s Cale Martens. The freshmen went up to try and dunk for the winning basket, but the ball sailed off the iron as the horn sounded to cue the Wabash celebration with the one-point victory.
“We just played and great team in an incredible game,” Wabash Coach Kyle Brumett said after the win. “I’m really proud of our guys and our following that we’ve had along the way. It’s been a long time since Wabash has played in March. I’m just excited we get to continue to play.”
Davidson’s free throw attempt was about the only miss in his game Saturday evening. The All-America and Player of the Year candidate scored a season-high 42 points, which is also the second-most points scored by a Wabash player in an NCAA Tournament game. Pete Metzelaars scored 45 in the Little Giants’ national championship win over Potsdam State in 1982. Davidson shot 13-of-18 from the field while going 7-of-11 from three-point range. He also shared team-high honors with Kellen Schreiber as both players grabbed seven rebounds for Wabash. Davidson also handed out four assists. He is the all-time single-season scoring leader in Wabash history with 752 points this year.
Wabash was forced to hang on for the victory after Emory had carved into the Little Giants’ 14-point second-half lead. Wabash extended a 48-43 halftime lead to 59-48 in the first three minutes of the second period. The Eagles refused to go away, trimming the advantage to 81-80 with 3:33 left to play.
It was Ahmoni Jones who provided the late scoring punch to help Wabash maintain its advantage over Emory. Jones connected on a turnaround jump shot in the lane to push the lead back to three, then answered another Emory basket with a 15-foot jumper to put Wabash in front 85-82 with 1:55 remaining to set up the final sequence of events. Jones finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds.
Wabash jumped out to an early lead off the inside scoring of Schreiber. The Little Giants found the senior forward repeatedly in the first half with Schreiber scoring all but one of his 14 points in the first half. Wabash took an early lead at 14-4 in the first five minutes until Emory responded. The Eagles outscored Wabash 23-9 over the next six minutes to take a 27-23 lead. Emory eventually took a seven-point lead at 34-27 before the Little Giants mounted their own scoring run. Davidson hit a pull-up three-pointer then followed with two free throws ahead of a Schreiber basket to even the score at 34-34 with 5:23 left in the first half. The teams traded baskets before a Davidson basket and free throw put Wabash back in front for good for the remainder of the half.
Tyler Watson scored five points and handed out a team-best nine assists for Wabash. The Little Giants shot 52.7 percent from the field (29-of-55) and 46.2 percent from three-point range (12-of-26). Emory finished 35-of-77 from the field (45.5 percent) and 10-of-25 on three-point tries (40 percent).
Schner led Emory with 30 points. Romin Williams scored 12 points and Martens picked up 10 points.
The win extends the Wabash winning streak to 22 games. Friday night’s victory over Berry College to advance to Saturday’s game against Emory was the 25th win of the season for the Little Giants, breaking the school record of 24 wins in a season.
Wabash will play Williams College in the round-of-16 on Friday, March 11 at Illinois Wesleyan University with a time still to be determined.