MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The St. Thomas men’s basketball team got off to a fast start and held off a second half comeback in a 68-58 win over Wheaton College Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
The Tommies (28-1), ranked No. 1 in the nation, will host Calvin College (26-3) in the third round Saturday in St. Paul. The winner goes to Salem, Va., for the national quarterfinals. Calvin, ranked No. 12 nationally, beat UW-Steven’s Point 67-58, a team St. Thomas beat 63-58 early in the season.
St. Thomas outscored a physical Wheaton squad 28-11 on the way to the victory in a game where 51 personal fouls were called. The Tommies led 21-10 midway through the first half and used a 16-6 run to lead 37-21 late in the half. It appeared St. Thomas would roll to the victory with a 37-25 lead at the half, but the Thunder cut the lead to 59-53 with 3:12 left in regulation.
The Tommies made free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. Tommy Hannon led all scorers with 18 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds. Will DeBerg added 13 points, including a 9-for-10 night at the free throw line. Zach Riedeman scored 11 points.
St. Thomas shot 44 percent from the field in the win, including just 25 percent from three-point range. The Tommies used a strong defensive effort to overcome a sluggish shooting night by forcing 21 Thunder turnovers.
The time of the St. Thomas/Calvin game has not officially been announced by the NCAA, but it’s believed it will be played Saturday night. The Tommies Blog will have a full preview of the match-up later this week.