Williams men's basketball falls to Augustana in NCAA Division III national semifinal
In a game with six, second-half ties, Augustana outscored Williams 11-2 in a two-minute span late in the second half and went on to defeat the Ephs 90-79 in an NCAA Division III national semifinal Friday night.
Williams fell behind 17-2 in the first half, and led one time, at 44-42 on a pair of Cole Teal free throws.
"Down the stretch, they made more plays," Williams coach Kevin App said in the postgame press conference. "Give them credit. They made some shots, we missed some during that last run."
Dan Aronowitz had a game-high 29 points in his Williams finale, 18 of them in the second half as he and his teammates tried to complete a second comeback in as many games. But the comeback fell short.
"It didn't happen for us tonight," said App. "The shots that we make some night didn't go in. They made some tough ones, and that's why sports are awesome and we love what we do.
"If you're going to go out and you're going to be here, you want to play hard and compete. I thought we did that."
Williams finishes its season with a 23-9 record.
Augustana (24-8) will play Babson (30-2) in tonight's championship game. The Beavers trailed by 25 points with 7:35 left in the first half, but stormed back. Babson trailed by four at halftime and led by as many as 13 in the second half before scoring a 91-85 win over previously undefeated Whitman (31-1). Joey Flannery had 24 points to lead Babson.
The nightcap started out in a similar fashion to the opener, as the Vikings jumped all over Williams, taking a 17-2 lead. Augustana made 5-of-6 shots from 3-point range in the opening six minutes, while Williams missed 2 long shots and were 1 for 8 from the floor.
Williams did cut the lead to 42-34 at halftime when Aronowitz banked a 3-point shot from just inside three-quarters court at the buzzer.
"We were dialed in and focused from the tip. Obviously, we played great coming out of the gate," said Augustana coach Grey Giovanine. "We knew they're good enough that they're going to make a run. The thing I was most pleased with is, when they tied the game and took a lead, our guys did what they did all year. They kept their composure. They stayed with the system and they kept battling."
Williams got its run coming out of the locker room in the second half. Aronowitz scored four points in a 10-0 run. When Cole Teal hit two foul shots with 16:48 left, Williams had its first — and what turned out to be its only — lead, 44-42.
From there, it was a nail biter. Each time Williams would get to within a point or tie the game, Augustana would take a lead.
The last time Williams got close was with 3:37 left when Aronowitz scored on a put back. The Vikings responded with a 7-0 run, and when Brett Benning, who had 17 points off the bench in 18 minutes, hit a 3-point shot from the left corner, it was 78-70, and that proved to be the dagger shot.
For Williams, Kyle Scadlock finished with 16 points and Teal had 10. Chrishawn Orange had 21 points for Augustana, one of five Vikings to score in double figures.
"It's something that we've talked about in our locker room since last year's banquet. I think the trip to Spain, and going into the first practice, this has been the best year of my life," Aronowitz said. "I wished I could have helped the guys get one day farther."
Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.
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