Weekend Bear Sports

Sophomore Cameron Smith drained a three-pointer from the corner with one minute left in overtime to give the No. 11 Washington University in St. Louis men’s basketball team to a 70-67 victory at No. 6 Augustana College on Saturday night in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Division III Tournament in Rock Island, Ill.

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Trailing 67-66 with less than two minutes to play in overtime, Smith hit his second three-pointer of the night giving WU the 69-67 lead. After a missed shot by Augustana, senior Danny O’Boyle drained 1-of-2 free-throws to push lead to 70-67. Brett Wessels desperation three at the buzzer was off the mark.

“I don’t shoot much, but when I do, I try to make sure they are good shots,” said Smith, who finished with six points and seven rebounds. “That is what I need to do to help our team win.”

Washington U. advances to take on Buena Vista University in the Sectional Semifinals on Friday, March 14, at a place and to be determined. Buena Vista advanced to Sectional play with a 54-53 upset win over No. 9 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

With the score tied at 11-11, O’Boyle came off the bench to nail two three-pointers and a 15-footer to give Washington U. a 21-15 lead with 9:55 remaining in the first half. The Bears hit 9-of-13 from the field to begin the game, including four of its first five from three-point range.

Freshman Caleb Knepper came off the bench and nailed a three-pointer from the wing, and then back-to-back lay-ups by senior Troy Ruths gave Washington U. its largest lead at 30-21 with 5:11 left. Augustana scored six-straight points to trim the advantage to 32-29, but the Bears scored a bucket with seven seconds left to take a 35-31 halftime lead.

Washington U. shot 56 percent (14-25) from the field in the first half, and hit 4-of-7 from three-point range. Ruths led all scorers with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, while O’Boyle added eight off the bench.

Augustana (23-6) knotted the game at 41-41 on a lay-up by Alex Washington, but Smith drained a three-pointer from the corner to push lead back to 45-41. The Bears continued to lead, but a put-back from Chandler Collins with 7:00 remaining tied the score at 51-51.

Ruths missed the front end with the Bears leading 60-59, but Augie turned the ball over on the ensuing possession. Thompson made 1-of-2 free-throws pushing lead to 61-59 with 11 seconds left. Matt Pelton missed a runner, but Collins got the rebound and was fouled by junior Tyler Nading with 0.9 seconds left. After a WU timeout, Collins nailed two free-throws to send game into overtime.

Augustana took a one-point lead (67-66) in overtime after two free-throws by Alex Washington with 1:41 remaining before Smith’s provide the heroics for Washington University, who is making its second-straight appearance in the Sweet 16.

“Once you get into the NCAA Tournament, we expect good games, and we were fortunate to come out with a win tonight,” said Washington U. head coach Mark Edwards. “Both teams played good solid defense, and it came down to who could get shots.”

Ruths led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while O’Boyle added 14 off the bench. Sophomore Aaron Thompson had 12 points and six assists, and eclipsed the 500-point plateau for his career. Nading added 10 points, passing Bud Cristal (1951-54) into 16th on the all-time scoring list with 1,072.

The Bears shot 55.1 percent (27-49) from the field, but hit just 45 percent (9-20) from the foul line. Washington U. was 3-of-9 from the free-throw line in the second half and in the extra period. The Bears had 16 assists in the win, but committed 19 turnovers. Wessels led Augustana with 18 points, while Washington (11 points) and Collins (10 points) also scored in double figures.

This marked the second time Washington U. and Augustana had met in the NCAA Tournament, as the Bears posted a 71-65 win in the first round of the Great Lakes Regional in 1963. WU also snapped a two-game losing skid to the Vikings, and improved to 16-0 when leading at the half.