UW-Whitewater Warhawks savor first Sweet 16

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Gazette staff
Friday, March 9, 2012
— The road through the Midwest bracket to the men’s basketball NCAA Division III Final Four is filled with peril.

UW-Whitewater’s Pat Miller knows that after guiding the Warhawks to five NCAA tournament berths in his 10 years as head coach.

Miller and the Warhawks are making their first Sweet 16 appearance tonight, and it’s on their home floor.

Whitewater (25-4) faces Wheat-on College (23-6) in a sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. at Kachel Gym. Virginia Wesleyan (26-3) plays Whitworth University (26-3) at 5:30 p.m. in the first semifinal.

The winners play at 7 p.m. Saturday for a Final Four berth in Salem, Va., next weekend.

“It’s been a combination of things,” Miller said of not making the Sweet 16 until this year. “One is the Midwest bracket is tough to get through.’’

After regional victories last weekend over Northwestern (Minn.) and former defending national champion University of St. Thomas, Miller believes the Warhawks are in good shape.

First up is Wheaton. The Thunder defeated Gustavus Adolphus College, 68-60, and Edgewood College, 73-62, last Saturday at UW-River Falls to advance.

Tim McCrary, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, is the Thunder’s leading scorer and playmaker who averages 18 points and eight rebounds.

“McCrary is their All-American candidate,” Miller said. “He can score, and he is just a very good all-around basketball player. McCrary is the key for them.’’

While McCrary is the main focus for Wheaton, Chris Davis, a 6-6 senior from Madison East, carries that distinction for the Warhawks.

Miller said Davis played well at last week’s regional, which should help him relax this weekend.

“I think the St. Thomas game took a lot of pressure off Chris,” Miller said. “We won without him scoring a lot of points.’’

Davis averages a team-leading 22 points per game, but was held to 11 in the Warhawks’ 91-62 victory over the Tommies. Cody Odegaard scored 29 points, making 9 of 11 from the field, including 7 of 8 three-pointers, and Alex Merg added 17 points.

“St. Thomas took (Davis) out, and our guys started to shoot the ball from the perimeter,” Miller said. “We have not been doing that this year, but that takes the pressure off Chris.’’

“If we make shots from the perimeter, we take pressure off Chris (Davis), and that’s key for us.’’

Last updated: 2:23 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

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