Ephs fall to Wisconsin-Stevens Point 78-73 in NCAA title tilt

James Wang/by Jamie Martin
James Wang/by Jamie Martin

Box Score 

See related piece by John Feinstein in Washington Post

Photos by Jamie Martin

SALEM, VA – A forty-minute championship contest for the Ephs was short-circuited by a 22-5 run over six minutes in the second half by the Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers who topped the Ephs 78-73 to win the 2010 NCAA crown.

With the win Stevens Point improves to 29-4 and the loss gives the Ephs a final ledger of 30-2 and snaps their 21-game in-season win streak. This marks the second time Wisconsin-Stevens Point has defeated the Ephs in the championship contest, having also prevailed in 2004, 84-82.

“I thought the difference in the game was the assist to turnover ratio,” said Eph head coach Mike Maker. “They had a 2-1 and we were 1-2 … we played well enough to win, we just ran out of time. We needed more scoring opportunities and they got six more shots than we did.”

“We teach humility through success,” said Maker. “We’re going celebrate a successful season tonight, but we are disappointed we could not bring a championship back to Williams.”

“It was another classic game between two great opponents,” said Stevens Point head coach Bob Semling. “We showed tremendous courage with 10 minutes left to finish the game with a victory.

A free throw by Troy Whittington at 11:02 boosted the Eph lead to 10, 54-44. but over the next six minutes the Pointers fashioned a 22-5 run to take a 66-59 win with 5:02 left.

A three-point play by Jared Jenkins and a three from the left corner by Dan Tillema got the Pointers back to within 6, 56-50. After an empty trip down the floor by Williams Stevens Point got another three from Tillema and then tied the contest on a three from the top of the key by Louis Hurd at 8:12.

Troy Whittington/by Jamie Martin

 

 

A soft left hand baby hook by Troy Whittington gave the Ephs a 58-56 advantage, but Tillema re-tied the contest with a jumper of his own.  Whittington then made one of two charity tosses to give Williams a one-point lead at the 7:30 mark. Unfortunately, for the Ephs, that would be their last lead of the contest.

A driving layup by W-SP’s Matt Moses that he banked off the glass from the right side gave the Pointers the lead 60-59 with just under six minutes left. Jared Jenkins then scored the next six points of the game with a three and a traditional three-point play and with 5:02 left the Pointers were up 66-59.

The Ephs refused to quit and a James Wang steal from Matt Moses at midcourt resulted in Wang hanging in the air in the lane, drawing contact, and laying the ball high off the glass for two and a free throw opportunity. Wang’s make from the line cut the Pointers’ lead to two, 69-67, with 1:15 left.

Nate Robertson/by Jamie Martin

 

 

Tillema then hit two free throws and Blake Schultz hit one of two and Stevens Point had a 71-68 lead with 41 seconds left. Troy Whittington was called for a foul on Matt Moses in the corner on the in-bounds pass and with 39 ticks left, Moses made both free throws and the Pointers were up 73-68, but not for long as Nate Robertson burst into the paint and hit a floater off the glass to make it 73-70 with 33 seconds remaining.

Again the Ephs came with full court pressure and this time Robertson was called for fouling Moses in the backcourt and the Pointer senior again converted both shots and the lead was back to five, 75-70.

With 15 seconds left W-SP’s Jerrel Harris made it 76-70 by making one of two charity tosses. The Ephs’ last thrust was highlighted by a deep three from Blake Schultz with eight seconds left, cutting the Pointer margin to three.  However, the Pointers escaped the Ephs’ full court pressure and Matt Moses made the final score 78-73 with a layin.

Blake Schultz led the Ephs with 20 points, Troy Whittington added 19, James Wang netted 17, while Alex Rubin chipped in with 11. Matt Moses led four Pointers in double figures tallying a game-high 22. Jared Jenkins notched 17, Dan Tillema had 15 and Louis Hurd netted 10.

The Ephs out rebounded the Pointers 35 to 26, but lost the ball 14 times on turnovers to just eight errors for the Pointers.

With the 37 points between them Schultz (615) and Wang (554) became the highest scoring Eph duo in history with 1169, eclipsing Mike Nogelo ’98 and Matt Hunt ’99 who tallied 1129. Schultz is the fourth player to go over 1500 points (1528) in his career and is only the second Eph to score 600 in a season.

NCAA All-Tournament Team:  Tyler Sanborn, Guilford; Ephs Troy Whittington and Blake Schultz, and from Wisconsin-Stevens Point Jared Jenkins and the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player, Matt Moses.

First half

A Jared Jenkins three with 6:56 to go in the first half gave Stevens Point their largest lead of six, 24-18, but the Ephs ran off nine of the next 12 points to take a 27-24 lead.  Eph buckets came from three inside hoops by Troy Whittington (one a smashing dunk) and a short jumper from James Wang.

The Ephs led 32-28 at 1:22 when Alex Rubin found Blake Schultz on the left side and Schultz buried a 17-footer. Jenkins came back for Stevens Point with a layup and a steal to bring the Pointers to within two.

The Pointers had a chance to tie the contest before intermission with Jenkins on the foul line for two with one second left. Jenkins, however, was short on his first attempt and then missed the second and a fall away put back by Scott Hoelzell was off the mark.

Williams led at the break 32-30 on nine points from Schultz and Whittington. The Pointers were led in scoring by Matt Moses who dropped in a dozen.

Williams was plus eight on the boards 18-10 with Schultz and Whittington both grabbing five. Matt Moses led the Pointers on the boards with three.

Williams again was victimized by turnovers in the opening 20 minutes with 9, while Stevens Point only turned it over four times.

The Ephs scored 18 points in the paint to W-SP’s 8. Williams hit on 54% of their floor attempts 13-24and Stevens Point connected on 12-27 for 44%.

Notes:  On hand for the championship weekend were Chuck Abba, Sumant Bhat, Ben Coffin, Mike Crotty from the 2003 Eph national champions and former head coach Dave Paulsen… by prior determination the W-SP side of the bracket was designated the home team… coach Maker could not go five seconds without receiving a call or text message with former associates, friends, family members and Ephs checking in to wish him well… at the Williams reception after the win over Guilford coach Maker paid tribute to the two Eph coaches before him who got the Ephs to the Final Four, AD Harry Sheehy and Paulsen… Maker had to attend a TV meeting at the Civic Center where TV timeouts and pre-game routines were set and he had to miss a team meeting to appear… the Ephs are chartering home on Sunday because there are just too many folks in Salem to get the team out on flights that would make it possible to get them all home at once… Ephs will leave Roanoke at 9:00 AM and arrive in Albany at 10:30 AM, beating the trip down by a mere three or five plus hours depending on which group you were on going to Roanoke… asst coach Shaun Morris was the detail guy on the trip for the Ephs, if you needed to know where the Ephs were and what they were doing Shaun had the answer… W-SP head coach Bob Semling was an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico with former Eph Point guard Grant Farmer ’98 who played of the Ephs in two Final Fours (1997 & 1998)… an NABC Senior All-Star game preceded the championship tilt and the East All-Stars with Adam Choice of Cobly and Terrell Hollins of Brandeis topped the West 109-106 in OT… famed author and sportswriter John Feinstein (A Season on the Brink) was on hand to cover the title tilt for the Washington Post.