Men's Basketball Win IIAC Tourney, Advance into NCAA DIII Tournament
Feb 28, 2015
DUBUQUE, Iowa - The University of Dubuque Men's basketball team will advance into the 2015 NCAA Division III National Tournament next week after a 81-73 victory over the Wartburg College Knights on Saturday evening on Jon Davison Court in Stoltz Sports Center. It marks the second time in three years the Spartans will play in the NCAA Tournament after claiming the IIAC Tournament title in 2012-13.
The exuberant near capacity crowd on hand witnessed a game which bounced back and forth with the visiting Knights keeping the game within striking distance by not letting the Spartans extend their lead by more than 13 points. Everytime the #3-seeded Spartans rallied their troups to a double digit lead, the #5-seeded Knights would get a stop or a turnover and slice the UD lead back to within a few points.
"I can't say enough about our crowd tonight," commented head coach Robbie Sieverding. "We were much better on the defensive end in the second half. Andre (Norris) and Gage (Heffernan) were really good tonight."
Both teams shot 6-17 from beyond the three point arc (35.3%). UD held the edge in shooting from the floor after sinking 27-54 attempts (50%), but would miss nine free throw attempts (21-30). The Knights crashed the defensive boards for 27 rebounds and held the edge over UD 39-35. Wartburg placed three out of their five starters in double digits with Jordan Cannon leading the Knights with 22 points and six rebounds. Nate Woeste and Nick Webber both would sink a pair of three pointers to end the night with a dozen points each. Dan Van Groninggen finished with 10 rebounds and eight points.
The Spartans placed four out of their starting five in double digit scoring. Last week's Iowa Conference Male Athlete of the Week, Andre Norris, led all scorers with 24 points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked three Knights shot attempts. Gage Heffernan was 8-11 at the free throw line to finish with 18 points. Brandon Ferguson was 7-13 in shots from the field and ended with 15 points, two assists and a steal. Lucas Ware collected eight key defensive rebounds and pumped in 12 points. The two squads relied on the starters for the majorty of the scoring and minutes on Saturday. Wartburg's bench scored 10 points while UD would get just five points from the reserves. UD outscored the Knights in the paint 34-32, but the key in the victory were points off turnovers where the host Spartans scored 17 points.
"Wartburg's guards gave us all we could handle tonight," added Sieverding. "I'm just proud of our team for everything they have accomplished this season and the past few years here at the University of Dubuque!"
UD (23-5 overall) earned the automatic berth into the 2015 NCAA Division III National Tournament with the eight point victory. The Spartans will have to wait until Monday morning when the field of qualifiers are announced online at http://www.ncaa.com/championships