UW-W wins third title

On the court of the Salem Civic Center Arena, it read “Salem, Virginia’s Championship City.”

They might as well change that to ‘Whitewater’s Championship City,’ after the UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team defeated Cabrini College 63-60 in a stunning 18-point comeback Saturday night in the Division-III National Championship game.

The men’s basketball team proudly displays the NCAA Division-III championship trophy after their 63-60 victory over Cabrini College last Saturday night in Salem, Va. They defeated MIT 71-56 Friday night to advance to the national championship game. Following the championship game, senior Chris Davis was named the National Player of the Year, while head coach Pat Miller was named National Coach of the Year. Photo by Andrew Smith.

This is the team’s third national championship, previously winning in 1984 and 1989.

With the football team winning a national championship in December, this marks the first time in Division-III history that both the football and basketball teams have won titles in the same year.

“When you’re at UW-Whitewater, winning national championships becomes a standard,” coach Pat Miller said. “So we’ve put a lot of time, effort and energy into getting back here, and I’m happy for our program and I’m thrilled for these guys.”

With just under 15 minutes left in the game, a win seemed out of reach. Even Miller said he was nervous.
It seemed impossible for the Warhawks to comeback after trailing 47-29, while senior Chris Davis was held without a field goal.
Miller said he was out of game plans and was searching for anything to work.

Then Miller put in freshman Quardell Young.

Young sparked a comeback, helping the ’Hawks go on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to eight points with just under 11 minutes left in the game. Young scored six straight points in that stretch.

“During the stretch, I was trying to keep my teammates composed and do what I could to use my advantages, which was getting to the basket,” Young said. “I found some seams and got to the basket, cut the lead down and our defense got a lot better.”

Even Cabrini was impressed by Young’s play.

“I thought that [Young] coming in and taking it to the rack three times in a row hurt us,” Cavaliers head coach Marcus Kahn said. “I thought that was the tide turning part.”

After the Cavaliers’ John Boyd hit two free throws to end that run, it was all UW-Whitewater. Senior Alex Edmunds cut the lead to 51-50 after making a layup with seven minutes left.
The ’Hawks stayed close for the next six minutes, but then with 1:12 left in the game, Davis hit a 3-pointer to give the ’Hawks a 59-57 lead, its first lead since 17 minutes left in the first half.

Davis got hot late in the game, scoring 10 of his team-high 12 points in the second half.

“Once I make a shot, I think every shot is going in after that,” Davis said. “So after I made my first shot, I got into a little rhythm.”

Davis, who was named First Team All-American and National Player of the year, struggled for the first 30 minutes of the game.

“They had a good scheme of double teaming me,” Davis said. “Every time I caught the ball there were two or three people running at me so I decided I didn’t want to force anything.”

UW-Whitewater struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 26 percent. They trailed Cabrini 31-21 at the half.

“At halftime we knew that those are the shots that we normally make,” senior Alex Edmunds said. “Even though we were down at that point, I knew that we would pick it up defensively like we always do and the shots would fall.”

Miller said he was happy the way the team battled back and said they never stopped playing hard.

“We just emphasized that it’s a 40-minute game and we’ve prided ourselves on our toughness,” Miller said. “This team just keeps their composure, they didn’t panic, they didn’t stop playing hard, they didn’t start blaming each other, they just grinded it out and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Miller, who was the guard on the 1989 championship team, said it’s a little more exciting to win as a player.

“I think it’s better as a player,” Miller said. “I tell these guys I’m half-joking when I tell them I don’t want the credit for it, those are their wins, they should be proud of them.”
The ’Hawks will lose seniors Davis, Edmunds and Josh Glenn after this season.

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