Edgewood Upends Falcons For First NCAA Tournament Win
Courtesy of Edgewood College
RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- This Edgewood College men's basketball team has made it their mission to accomplish things no Eagle team has ever accomplished. Todd Adrian's bunch added one more historic milestone to their resume with a stunning 75-67 win over 17th-ranked UW-River Falls in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The win marked the first NCAA Tournament win Edgewood College history for the men's basketball program.
Edgewood College (23-6) showed no fear stepping into the home of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Tournament champion. The Eagles scored back-to-back layups by Derek Nkemnji, followed by a baseline drive from Jake Guziewski. Two possessions later Guziewski stuck a three-pointer which put the Eagles ahead 11-9. UW-River Falls would never lead the game again. Those five points by Guziewski were part of a career-high 12 points on the night.
Tied at 22 with 4:30 left before halftime, the Eagles sent their first series message that they weren't going away this night. Nkemnji drilled a three-point shot and added a free throw to get the Eagles rolling. Justin Williams scored an inside bucket to answer a Falcon score, before Cashton Craig drilled a 25-foot three-point shot as the shot clock expired to give Edgewood College their largest lead of the night at 33-26, going into halftime.
In the second half, Edgewood College dropped the hammer on UW-River Falls. The Eagles led 43-32 with 14 minutes to play when UW-River Falls' Brian Kimble slipped bringing the ball up the floor. Williams picked up the free ball and finished with a violent dunk the ignited the smaller Edgewood College crowd and silenced the larger UW-River Falls throng. Williams' dunk sparked an amazing 18-5 run, which put the Eagles ahead by 24 at 61-37 with nine minutes to play. Ben Wisniewski hit three jump shots, before Craig drained back-to-back three-pointers to cap the surge.UW-River Falls (20-8) wasn't about to let their season end with a whimper. The Falcons snapped a furious full court trap on the Eagles and created havoc in the backcourt. The Eagles turned the ball over on seven of eight possessions and the Falcons capitalized in each one. Kimble scored a pair of baskets to bring the home fans back into the game. With three minutes to go Aaron Anderson hit a three-pointer to get the Falcons back within 10 at 65-55.
The Eagles recovered and seem to have put the game away with a free throw by Wisniewski that made the score 69-57, but the Falcons had one more push left. Anderson hit two more three-pointers, the second of which got the Falcons to 72-67, but Kent Faurote hit two free throws and rebounded Shane Manor's miss on the other end to seal the victory.
All five Eagle starters scored in double figures led by Nkemnji's 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting, including both of his three-point attempts. The senior from Madison also had eight rebounds.
Wisniewski scored 15 points and a handed out a team-high four assists despite being in early foul trouble. Craig tallied 13 points and hit three three-pointers. After Guziewski's career-high of 12, Faurote tallied 10. Williams led the team with nine rebounds. The Eagles shot 60 percent (12-for-20) from the field in the second half and finished at 52 percent (26-for-50) for the game. The Eagles hit 9-for-18 from the three-point line.
Manor led UW-River Falls with 16 points, but shot just 7-for-19. Center Wade Guerin scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, while Anderson added 12, all from the three-point line. Ollie White had nine points and a team-high nine rebounds. The Falcons shot 43.1 percent for the game, but suffered through a 5-for-12 night at the free throw line.
Edgewood College becomes the first team from the Northern Athletics Conference to win an NCAA Tournament game in its six-year history. The Eagles made previous tournament trips in 2002 and 2005, but lost in the first round each time.
Edgewood College will have little time to savor the win as tournament moves into second round play tomorrow night. The Eagles will face 24th-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) who defeated Gustavus Adolphus College 68-60 in the first game of the night at the Karges Center. The Eagles and Crusaders will tip off at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. D3Hoops.com will carry the videocast live on the web.