Wallis' Double-Double Leads Bears into NCAA Second Round
St. Louis, Mo., March 5, 2010 – Graduate student point guard Sean Wallis scored a game-high 21 points and dished out 13 assists to lead the No. 1 ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team to a 79-71 victory over Westminster College (Mo.) in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Division III Championship on Friday night at the WU Field House.
Wallis was 9-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, as he passed the 1,200-point plateau for his career. Less than one minute into the game, Wallis eclipsed the 750 mark in career assists, and moved past Mike McGarvey (Ursinus) and Andrew Olson (Amherst) into eighth place on the all-time Division III list with 762.
"Our offense puts me in good situations to get our players the ball," said Wallis. "For assists, you have to have players that can finish shots."
Washington University (24-2) takes on Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday at 7 p.m. for a berth in the sectional semifinals. The Titans posted a 86-81 victory over the No. 22 ranked Central College in the first game Friday.
Senior Aaron Thompson and sophomore Dylan Richter each tallied 13 points for the Bears, while junior Spencer Gay added 10 points and eight rebounds. Westminster, which finished it season at 20-8, had four players in double figures and was led by 20 points from Stanley Crawford. Kurt Kovach and Skylar Tolson each accounted for 15 points, while Justin Gilmore added 11.
"Westminster played great tonight; they came to compete," said Washington University head coach Mark Edwards. "This was a great Division III tournament game. No matter if you are at home or on the road, or if people are saying you are expected to win or not, you have to come out and play basketball."
"You never go into a game expecting a blowout," Edwards added. "I am disappointed when the other team does not come to compete and that was not the case this evening."
The Bears shot 60 percent (30-50) from the field in the victory, and hit 8-of-16 from three-point range. Washington U. outrebounded Westminster, 36-20, and had 26 assists in the win. The Blue Jays hit 10-of 28 from three’s in the loss.
In a first half that saw eight lead changes, the Bears got the advantage to five (28-23) on a lay-up by Thompson with 5:50 left in the opening half. The Blue Jays stayed in the contest early by hitting five of their first seven from three-point range. A lay-up by senior Zach Kelly with 49 seconds remaining gave WU a 40-34 advantage, its largest lead of the half.
The Bears shot a blistering 66.7 percent (16-24) in the opening 20 minutes, but Westminster countered by hitting 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. Tolson had 12 points in the first half on 4-of-4 three-pointers to lead all scorers.
The Blue Jays regained a two-point lead (54-52) with 13:39 to play after Crawford converted a three-point play, but Wallis found Richter for a three-pointer to give Washington U. the lead they would not relinquish. Another three-pointer by Richter on an assist by Wallis pushed WU’s lead to 61-54 with 10:59 remaining.
Tolson’s fifth three of the night trimmed the lead to one (63-62) with under seven minutes to play, but a jumper by Wallis in the paint pushed it back to three. The Blue Jays once again got the lead down to one possession, but senior Cameron Smith drained a three from the corner on Wallis’ 13th and final assist to seal the victory for the Bears with 1:39 to play.
Bear Notebook: This marks the 14th-straight NCAA Tournment win for the Bears dating back to 2007 … Westminster was making its first NCAA appearance since 1995, and is 0-2 all-time … Washington U. leads the all-time series with Westminster 19-6, but the two teams met for the first time since 2000 … The Bears have won 13-straight games, and 59 of their last 61 when leading at halftime.