Written by Jack McCarthy
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 00:00
North Central College has been designated the host institution for the Cardinals' third-round game against College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) rival Illinois Wesleyan University in the 2013 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship.
The third-ranked Cardinals (26-3) advanced to the tournament's round of 16 for the second straight season on Saturday with a 64-60 victory over the fifth-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The victory was North Central's first against the defending national champions and was the Cardinals' 10th consecutive win.
The 10th-ranked Titans (23-5) opened the championship with an 80-71 win over Transylvania University before defeating Washington University in St. Louis on Saturday, 71-67. IWU hosted the Cardinals on Jan. 23, winning by a 69-61 score, before North Central knocked off the Titans, 87-83, in overtime at Gregory Arena on Feb. 19.
Saturday's tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Saturday prior to game time and will be $7 for adults and $3 for senior citizens, students and children. Children under two years of age will be admitted free of charge. Plans for advance ticket sales will be announced as soon as they have been finalized.
Oust defending champs—Getting yet another big-time performance off its bench and erasing a late deficit with a strong stretch run, the North Central College men's basketball team defeated the defending national champion, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, by a 64-60 count in the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship at Benedictine University's Rice Center Saturday evening.
The third-ranked Cardinals (26-3) advance to the national tournament's round of 16 for the second straight time with their 10th straight win, and will face a College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) rival in the next round in 10th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University.
Key to North Central's effort was the performance of point guard Brandon Williams, who spent much of the early portion of the season as a starter but had seen limited time in recent weeks. After entering the game midway through the first half to address defensive concerns, Williams wound up contributing 13 points and six rebounds and making all six of his field-goal attempts.
"It was good to be able to step up and help the team out," said Williams. "I just tried to create some energy and attack and open some things up, and I was able to get to the basket.
"We've got so many people who can step up and take some pressure off the rest of the team. That's a big reason why we've made it this far."
The Cardinals jumped out to an 8-2 lead early as Whitewater missed five of its first six shots. The Warhawks regrouped and scored 10 straight points to take the lead, including four layups coming off of dribble penetration, and holding North Central scoreless for nearly four minutes while frustrating the hosts with high defensive pressure on the perimeter.
Whitewater extended its lead to its largest at 29-20 with 3:33 left in the opening period, but was held scoreless for the rest of the half as the Cardinals rallied to close the gap. Derek Raridon sank a jumper before a pair of dunks by Jack Burchett and a putback by Williams and North Central trailed by just a single point at 29-28 at the break.
"Once they upped their defensive tempo, it seemed like we struggled," said North Central head coach Todd Raridon. "We got some points in transition and Jack got a couple of dunks off nice passes from Brandon and Aaron Tiknis, which was huge because it kept us close to a very good basketball team and gave us some momentum going into the half."
The Cardinals opened the second period by feeding the ball inside to Landon Gamble, who responded with the first seven points of the half and put the home team up, 35-29, with 17:35 left. North Central led until Whitewater capped a 7-0 run with KJ Evans' layup and pulled in front, 40-39. After a jumper by Derek Raridon, the Warhawks scored another six straight to take a 46-41 lead with 8:20 to go.
Derek Raridon drew fouls on two straight possessions, canning four free throws, to cut the Cardinals' deficit to 46-45, and Williams' three-point play tied the score at 48-48 with 4:52 left. Williams briefly gave North Central the lead with a layup, which was countered by the Warhawks' Quardell Young on the other end of the floor.
Tiknis followed with a three-pointer on the next possession, and the visitors came within a point of the lead twice before a layup by Williams and a three-pointer by Vince Kmiec provided a commanding 61-55 lead with just under a minute to play.
Whitewater's Darnell Harris, however, knocked down a three-pointer as well, and after forcing a turnover, the Warhawks got another layup by Young to trail by just a 61-60 count with 33 seconds left. North Central got two free throws from Kmiec with 17 seconds to go, and after a missed three-point attempt by Harris, Derek Raridon was fouled and made one of two shots to seal the victory.
"It was a good test," Derek Raridon said. "Whitewater is obviously a very good team, but we executed and made plays when we needed to. As long as we play as a team and guys are stepping up every night, we're going to be tough to beat."
Derek Raridon led North Central with 18 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Gamble finished with 10 points, Burchett grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and Tiknis totaled six assists.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 13:17