SALEM, Va. (AP) — Tournament MVP Cooper Cook scored 16 points and Jack Hiller added 14, including a late 3-pointer that gave Nebraska Wesleyan the lead for good, as the Prairie Wolves beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh 78-72 on Saturday night for their first NCAA Division III national championship.
Nebraska Wesleyan (30-3) finished its season with 13 consecutive wins, including a 130-97 win over top-ranked Whitman last weekend to clinch its spot in the final four.
Cook and Hiller each hit 4 of 6 from 3-point range as the Prairie Wolves finished 14 of 22 from behind the arc and shot 52 percent overall. Wesleyan concluded the tournament with a record 73 made 3s in six games.
Wesleyan led by eight with less than five minutes left, but Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Jack Flynn made two free throws and Ben Boots hit back-to-back 3s — the second from well beyond NBA range — to make it 72-all with 2:52 to play. Oshkosh was 17 of 40 on 3s for the game.
But after Hiller missed a 3 on the other end, Cook grabbed the offensive rebound before Nate Schimonitz found Hiller for a 3 from the right wing to put the Prairie Wolves in front for good. The Titans committed a turnover on each of their next two possessions. And after a tightly contested fall-away jumper by Schimonitz with 30 seconds left, a steal by Ryan Garver sealed the win. Garver’s free throw with 4.4 seconds to play capped the scoring.
Schimonitz, a Creighton Prep graduate, finished with 15 points and six assists. Schimonitz also hit back-to-back 3s in the final 30 seconds of the first half to give Wesleyan a 45-43 halftime lead.
Garver and Omaha Benson graduate Deion Wells-Ross scored 11 points apiece. Wells-Ross added three blocks, and Millard West grad Austin Hall chipped in seven points off the bench.
Boots led Wisconsin-Oshkosh (25-8) with 24 points, including six 3-pointers.