New York, N.Y., Feb. 16, 2014 – The No. 4-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team secured its third-straight University Athletic Association (UAA) title and gained an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship with a 79-75 win at New York University Sunday afternoon.
The UAA Championship for Washington U. is the Bears' fifth in the last six seasons and 13th in school history. Washington University is the first team in conference history to win three-straight conference crowns. The win also gave head coach Mark Edwards the 15th 20-win season of his career.
NYU used four offensive rebounds in the first six minutes of the game to score six second-chance points and grab an 11-8 lead with 14:38 left in the first half. After taking a timeout, the Bears answered with a 7-0 run, capped by a three-pointer by senior guard Alan Aboona off a kick-out from junior forward Nick Burt, to take a 15-11 lead with 13:16 remaining in the half. NYU answered with a three after calling a timeout, but Washington U. went on an 8-2 run, including a pair of layups by senior forward Chris Klimek, to stretch the lead to 23-17 with 10:33 to play in the opening half. The Violets battled back to within three (38-35) and had a chance to make it a one-point game with 1:13 left in the half, but missed both double-bonus free throws, and a layup by sophomore forward Brandon Staffeil gave the Bears a 40-35 advantage at halftime.
The Bears opened the second half with baskets by Klimek and senior guard Tim Cooney to take their largest lead of the game at 44-35. New York went on an 8-2 run to pull to within 46-43, but Aboona answered with his fourth three-pointer of the game to make it 49-43 with 16:41 to play. The Violets continued their hot streak and a three-pointer by Ryan Tana tied the game at 52-52 with 13:15 left. On the Bears' next possession, Aboona drained another three from the wing to regain the lead for the Bears. After three free throws by NYU, the Violets scored a bucket with 9:55 to play to take their first lead (57-55) since the 14:20 mark in the first half.
The teams traded baskets until Klimek picked up his fourth foul with 8:39 left in the game and NYU made a pair of free throws to give the Violets a 61-59 lead. Klimek made a free throw and a driving layup on the Bears' next two possessions to tie the game again at 62-62 with 7:59 remaining. Washington U.'s defense got back-to-back stops and a layup by Klimek and pullup jumper in the paint for Aboona made the score 66-62 in favor of the Bears with 6:25 on the clock. NYU made a pair of second-chance baskets to tie the game, but a layup by Aboona gave the Bears the lead for good (68-66) with 4:33 remaining. Aboona then got a defensive rebound on NYU's next possession and Burt found Cooney under the basket for a layup that made it 70-66. Aboona added a free throw to make it 71-66 before a three-pointer by NYU got the Violets to within 71-69 with 2:41 left.
Burt, playing with four fouls, blocked a fast-break layup and knocked the ball out of bounds off an NYU player with 2:15 remaining. After a timeout by the Bears, Aboona drove for an open layup to extend the lead to 73-71. Aboona and junior guard David Fatoki combined to go 6-of-6 at the free-throw line in the final 1:11 to seal the four-point win for the Bears.
Washington U. shot 52.7 percent (29-55) from the field in the game, including 6-of-12 from three-point range, while NYU finished shooting 42.6 percent (29-68) and 5-of-21 from beyond the arc. The Bears converted 15-of-23 free-throw attempts, while the Violets were 12-of-22 at the charity stripe. Washington U. also finished with a 40-36 rebounding advantage. NYU pulled down 14 offensive rebounds to gain a 19-3 advantage in second-chance points, and also outscored the Bears 17-6 in points off turnovers.
Aboona scored a game-high 29 points, including 19 in the second half. He was 5-of-9 from three-point range, and also finished with five rebounds and five assists. Klimek finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, including five points in the final 8:39 while playing with four fouls. Cooney also got into double figures for the Bears with 10 points, three assists and a team-high three steals. Junior guard Matt Paluckitallied nine points, while Burt added three points, and equaled his career-highs with nine rebounds and six assists.
Washington U. (20-2, 11-0 UAA) plays its final two home games Friday, Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. against Case Western Reserve University and Sunday, Feb. 23, at Noon against Carnegie Mellon University. Both games will be broadcast free on the Bear Sports Network.
Bear Notebook: Washington U. leads the all-time series with New York, 41-13, and the Bears have won 12 of the last 14 meetings … It was just the third home loss of the season for NYU … Aboona played in the 100th game of his career Sunday … Aboona's five assists brought his career total to 400 … Cooney passed Brian Panek (1996-99) for ninth in school history with 137 steals … Washington U. improved to 16-1 this season when gaining the halftime advantage … Washington U. has won 15-straight games … Klimek moved into a tie with Bud Cristal (1951-54) for 20th on the all-time scoring list with 1,062 points … Washington U. has won 12-straight games on Sundays and is 8-0 this season.