Magical Run Comes to an End Against Illinois Wesleyan
St. Louis, Mo., March 6, 2010 – Washington University's magical four-year run came to a close on Saturday night with a 75-70 loss to Illinois Wesleyan University in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo.
The top-ranked team in Division III ends its season with a 24-3 record, and the Class of 2010 finishes a remarkable career with an overall record of 103-16 (.866) with three University Athletic Association (UAA) championships, three trips to the Final Four, and the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Division III National Championships.
"It just didn’t happen for us tonight," said Washington University head coach Mark Edwards. "Illinois Wesleyan played a great game; they are a great rivalry and we just came up short. What it came down to was that we just couldn’t stop them at key moments."
Senior All-American Aaron Thompson led the Bears with 20 points on 4-of-10 shooting from three-point range, and finishes his career third all-time in scoring (1,591) and second in three-pointers made (289). Junior Spencer Gay added a double-double, the third of his career, with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Graduate student Sean Wallis was limited to just two points on 1-of-7 shooting, but had a game-high 11 assists in his final game with the Red and Green. Wallis wraps up his illustrious career as Washington University’s all-time leader in assists, and seventh in Division III history with 773. He also finishes 13th on the all-time scoring list with 1,216 points.
Senior Cameron Smith (seven points, four rebounds), senior Zach Kelly (seven points, seven rebounds) and senior Ross Kelley (two points) rounds out the winningest senior class in school history.
There were four ties in the first half of play, but Washington University did not manage to lead during the first 20 minutes of play. Gay provided the offense early in the first half for the Bears, converting on three of his first four shots, including back-to-back lay-ups, to knot the score at 10-10.
Junior Sean Johnson ignited a 7-0 for the Titans with a long two and three-pointer as IWU took a 17-10 lead. Illinois Wesleyan connected on seven of its first 12 from the field, and shot 52 percent (13-25) in the first half of play.
Thompson picked up his second foul at 12:49 and went to the bench for the remaining of the half. Thompson had four points in just seven minutes in the opening half of play. Wallis picked up his second foul with 9:25 left, putting both of Washington U.’s All-American’s on the bench for the rest of the half.
Illinois Wesleyan got the lead up to eight (27-19) with 6:20 remaining on a lay-up by Doug Sexauer, but sophomore Dylan Richter scored four-straight points to close the gap to 27-23.
The Titans once again built the lead to eight (34-26), but the Bears ended the half on a 5-0 run to close the halftime gap to 34-31. After Smith drained a three-pointer with eight seconds remaining, IWU head coach Ron Rose was assessed a technical foul with three seconds lefts and junior Caleb Knepper drained both free-throws.
The Bears extended the run to 10-0 with a three-pointer by Thompson and a lay-up by Gay, giving Washington U. its first and only lead of the game at 36-34 just 41 seconds into the second half. The Titans took its largest lead of the game at 48-39 with 14:18 to play after Sean Dwyer found Jordan Zimmer open for a lay-up.
Washington U. would not go away, and a three-pointer by Thompson at the 5:13 mark cut the lead to 61-57. Another three by Thompson got IWU’s lead down to one (68-67) with less than two minutes to play. With the Titans leading by three with 15 seconds left, Zimmer missed the second of a two-shot foul, but Doug Sexauer was there for the offensive rebound and was fouled. He made two free-throws to secure the victory for the Titans, and snap Washington U.’s 14-game winning streak.
IWU came to compete, and they did. The ball bounced their way a few more than ours," said Thompson. "Its been an unreal four years here. We have a heck of a family here at Washington University…its gonna be tough to see it go."
Johnson finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, while Zimmer (17 points) and Sexauer (16 points, nine rebounds) also scored in double figures. The Titans shot 50.9 percent (27-53) from the field, and committed just 12 turnovers.
Illinois Wesleyan (22-7) advances to take on No. 14 ranked Carthage College in the sectional semifinals on Friday, March 12, at a site to be determined. This marks the fourth time the two teams have met this season, with Carthage holding a 2-1 advantage.
Bear Notebook: The loss snaps the Bears’ 14-game NCAA Tournament winning streak dating back to 2008 … Washington U. is 0-4 all-time against Illinois Wesleyan in the NCAA Tournament.