SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The No. 3-ranked and No. 2-seeded Indiana Tech men’s basketball team defeated No. 25-ranked and No. 7-seeded West Virginia University Institute of Technology, 89-83, in overtime, in the first round of the NAIA Division II National Championship, presented by Cypress Risk Management, in the Duer Bracket on Thursday night at the Sanford Pentagon.
The Warriors improve to 4-7 all-time in national tournament games and earned their 27th win of the season.
Joel Wincowski and Dylan Phair led the Warriors with 22 points apiece in the contest with Wincowski grabbing seven rebounds. Nic Williams would follow his teammates’ performances with 17 points of his own while adding eight rebounds and six assists. Scott Schwieterman Darren Groves also notched double-digit scoring efforts with 11 and 10, respectively, with the former grabbing seven rebounds and blocking four shots.
The Orange and Black looked to make a statement early after back-to-back three point shots from Phair and Wincowski as Tech grabbed an 8-1 lead just over a minute into the contest. The Warriors continued to build their lead as they soon jumped ahead by double figures with a 19-8 advantage at the 13:14 check point. The Golden Bears utilized turnovers and a brief period of cold shooting from the Warriors to pull themselves with six, but Tech’s offense rebounded to regain an 11-point lead off a basket from Schwieterman with just under six minutes left in the first half.
WVU Tech put together an 8-2 run in the final two minutes of the half to come within four points with 44 seconds left on the clock and forcing the Warriors to take a timeout. A clutch three pointer from Max Huber gave the Orange and Black a 39-32 lead at the half.
Tech would revisit their 10-point advantage just over two minutes into the second half as Wincowski hit a three that provided a 48-38 score. Phair would capitalize on a WVU Tech turnover by knocking down another three to push the Warriors advantage to 51-38 with 17:06 on the clock. The Golden Bears answered back with a 6-0 run that pulled them within four at the 10:29 mark though, to set the stage for a dramatic last half of regulation.
With the Orange and Black holding the lead, the contest would turn into an exchange of scores after Schwieterman got a basket to make things 60-55 with 8:14 to go before being answered by the Golden Bears as the Appalachian Athletic Conference member cut things down to three. Tech would gain some comfort after a Williams’ basket that pushed their advantage back to eight with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
A pair of free throws from Schwieterman would put the Warriors out to a 10-point lead again, but WVU Tech hit a triple and followed that up with a pair of free throws to cut things down to 67-62 at the 2:43 point. With just a minute and a half remaining and the Orange and Black would hold a 68-65 lead, but a lead that would be cut down to just one after the Golden Bears hit both free throws. With just nine seconds left in regulation, Tech held a 71-69 lead, but Michael Scott would get the put-back bucket off the offensive rebound to tie the game up at 71 with 0.2 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.
Both teams would get a quick two points to start the extra time period, but it was the Wincowski who would knock down a three to put Tech ahead 76-73. Another three-point shot from Wincowski would grant the Orange and Black a two-point advantage with just over three minutes remaining. The Golden Bears continued to keep stride with the Warriors as they had the entire game, tying things back up at 79-79 after hitting a pair of free shots, but Groves put the Warriors ahead for good at the 1:20 mark as he hit a runner in the lane to make it an 81-79 game. After a basket from Phair, Tech remained ahead 85-79, but it would be answered back by their opponents to make it a four-point game at 83-79 with 55 seconds left on the clock.
Despite the comeback attempt from WVU Tech, the Warriors pushed ahead in the final thirty seconds of play and maintained the lead from the opening tip to the final horn as they advanced to the second round for the first time since the 2005 tournament with the 89-83 victory.
Tech (27-6) continues their postseason run on Friday as they will take on the winner of third-seeded Union College and six-seeded Marian University in the final game of the first round on Thursday night. The Warriors second round game will tip-off at 10:15
EST from the Sanford Pentagon.