Wisconsin-Stevens Point beats Augustana for D-III title
SALEM, Va. (AP) Austin Ryf and three other Wisconsin-Stevens Point seniors arrived on campus the year after the Pointers won their last national championship, and were made aware right away that getting to the Final Four is always a goal.
On their last try, Ryf, Jordan Lutz, Joe Ritchay and Alex Richard got to cut down the nets as champions, beating Augustana 70-54 Saturday.
''That's a reason why we went there, just because we knew of the strong tradition,'' Ryf said, a piece of the net sticking out of his backward-facing cap and the tournament's most outstanding player's award his to enjoy.
''Us four seniors have been role players the last three years, so it was our turn to step into a deeper role,'' he said.
Ryf scored 17 points, Ritchay had 15 and Stephen Pelkofer 14 for the Pointers (27-5). The team earned the school's fourth title with a 10-0 run early in the second half that helped them open a 21-point lead, and they held on thanks to the nation's leading defense after the Vikings (27-5) rallied to 57-48 with 4:30 to go.
''Defense has been our constant and we know our offense will all of a sudden ignite us,'' Pointers coach Bob Semling said. ''We have that ability to get hot and string together a number of shots.''
The Pointers, who also won in 2004, 2005 and 2010, shot 55.3 percent, and made 12 of 18 3-point tries.
Semling was jubilant to see his seniors claim a spot in the Pointers' rich championship history.
''This is their mark that they've added to the history of Stevens Point basketball,'' he said.
The team's performance left Augustana coach Greg Giovanine disappointed, but giving credit to the winners.
''It's hard to beat anybody that shoots it as well as they do,'' Giovanine said.
Brandon Motzel scored 14 points and Hunter Hill 13 for Augustana (27-5). The Vikings, of Illinois, were in the championship game for the third time and seeking their first national championship. Augustana hoped its rally would pay off in the end because the Pointers essentially played five players, but it never happened.
''We thought toward the end of the second half they would wear down because of back-to-back games and playing five guys, but they've been doing it all year so they're used to it,'' Hill said. ''They hit big shots when they needed to.''
The Pointers' starters played all but 18 minutes.
The Pointers improved to 8-0 in games played at the Salem Civic Center, which began hosting the Final Four in 1996.