SALEM, Va. — The UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team rallied to make history.
The Warhawks came back from an 18-point deficit in the second half to grab the NCAA Division III championship from Cabrini College (Pa.), winning 63-60 on Saturday night to become the first team in Division III history to win national titles in both football and basketball in the same school year.
“I thought it was a great final game for Division III,” said Whitewater coach Pat Miller, who now has won a national championship as a player and a coach at the school. “We’re very excited to come away with the win.”
Whitewater also won national titles in 1984 and ’89.
“It’s different, (but) I think it’s better as a player,” Miller said when asked to compare his two titles that are separated by 23 years. “As a player you feel more of a deep sense of accomplishment, and as a coach you feel like a parent proud of his kids. I’m really proud of these guys.”
The Warhawks (29-4) trailed 47-29 with 14 minutes, 41 seconds left in the game. And with star player and Madison East product Chris Davis struggling, Whitewater was searching for answers.
It came in the form of freshman Quardell Young.
Young came off the bench to fuel a 17-2 second-half run with six straight points, helping Whitewater close within five with 9:41 to play.
“I was just trying to create some holes, and when I could, I could drive to the basket,” said Young, who finished with 10 points.
“Quardell got some seams and got to the rim, and he’s the type of player that when he gets confidence, he’s unbelievable. That gave us a spark,” Miller said.
“That was the tide-turner. That’s when we went back on our heels,” Cabrini coach Marcus Kahn said.
Young’s basket followed a Davis 3-pointer — his first field goal of the night.
Davis, who finished with a team-high 12 points and was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player, tied the game at 55 with a 3-pointer. And it was his runner that gave the Warhawks a 59-57 advantage with 1:08 left.
Cabrini missed on its end and Davis was fouled on the rebound, making two free throws to give Whitewater a four-point advantage with 59 seconds left.
John Boyd then converted a three-point play for Cabrini (31-2) to pull back to within a point with 43.9 seconds left.
Senior Alex Edmunds then came up with biggest shot of his career, making a basket in the paint to push the Warhawks’ lead to 63-60 with 15 seconds left.
The game closed on Boyd’s 3-point attempt, which didn’t draw iron.