2006 Division III men's basketball tournament

Ton Ton Balenga watches his 3-pointer fly. It splashed through the net with 2.1 seconds left, lifting Virginia Wesleyan past Wittenberg 59-56.

Ton Ton Balenga buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.1 seconds left to give Virginia Wesleyan a 59-56 win against Wittenberg in the Division III men's basketball championship game.

It's the South's first national title since LeMoyne-Owen won the first Division III national championship in 1975, and it's been a long climb for Virginia Wesleyan, Pat Coleman recalls.

The Marlins trailed by 10 points four times in the second half before outscoring the Tigers 26-13 in the final 10 minutes. Balenga, the Most Outstanding Player of the championships, scored 12 of his 22 points in that stretch.

"Tyler (Fantin) set the best screen I ever got in my life," said Balenga. "When it left my hand I thought it was going to be kind of right, but it went in. I almost lost it a little."

Virginia Wesleyan shot 26% in the first half before going 16-for-28 from the floor in the second half. The Marlins won both Final Four games by three points or less, as well as all three ODAC tournament games played on the same floor.

Balenga hit a layup, stole the ball and then canned a short jump shot with 1:54 left to tie the game at 52. Virginia Wesleyan grabbed its first lead when Brandon Adair got a layup with 1:20 left to push the Marlins ahead 54-52. Adair also tied the game at 56 when he hit a pair of free throws with 49.3 seconds left.

After Wittenberg's Daniel Russ was called for traveling, Balenga sent the game-winning three-point shot whistling through with 2.1 seconds left.

Balenga and Adair combined for most of the Marlins' points. Balenga hit a game high 22 followed by Adair's 21-point effort. Wittenberg (30-4) was paced by Dane Borchers with 15 points. The Tigers, who led by 10 points at the half, hit 21-of-44 shots from the field and held a 29-26 edge on the boards as Russ collected nine rebounds.

Virginia Wesleyan (30-3) is one of the younger teams to win the NCAA Division III title. The Marlins had only one senior starter. The Tigers had four.

Virginia Wesleyan 59, Wittenberg 56
at Salem, Va.

All-Tournament Team
Ton Ton Balenga, Virginia Wesleyan (Most Outstanding Player)
Brandon Adair, Virginia Wesleyan
Dan Borchers, Wittenberg
Dan Russ, Wittenberg
Keelan Amelianovich, Illinois Wesleyan

Third-Place Game
Illinois Wesleyan 71, Amherst 68

National Semifinals
Virginia Wesleyan 81, Illinois Wesleyan 79
Wittenberg 64, Amherst 60

Sectional championships
Illinois Wesleyan 113, Puget Sound 99
Virginia Wesleyan 46, William Paterson 35
Amherst 93, St. John Fisher 70
Wittenberg 74, Transylvania 61

First Round
March 2-3
Second Round
March 4
Sectionals at Lawrence
March 10-11

at UW-Whitewater 76
DePauw 68

at UW-Whitewater 71
Illinois Wesleyan 85
Illinois Wesleyan 71
Lawrence 68
Illinois Wesleyan 81
Carroll 68
at St. Thomas 76
North Central (Ill.) 68
St. Thomas 59
at Lawrence 63

at Occidental 48
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 41

at Puget Sound 89
Occidental 81
Puget Sound 92
Augustana 86
at Augustana 71
Buena Vista 66
at Augustana 77
UW-Stout 70
UW-Stout 66
Carleton 64
First Round Second Round Sectionals at Va. Wesleyan
Farmingdale State 93
at Ursinus 82
at Virginia Wesleyan 71
Farmingdale State 63
at Virginia Wesleyan 72
Lincoln 71
Christopher Newport 96
at Lincoln 102
at Lincoln 100
Messiah 80
Messiah 83 OT
Alvernia 77
William Paterson 70
Scranton 45
William Paterson 72
Villa Julie 48
William Paterson 52
Widener 45
Villa Julie 86
at Baruch 71
Widener 61
Catholic 59
Widener 71
at York (Pa.) 69
at York (Pa.) 87
York (N.Y.) 67
First Round Second Round Sectionals at Amherst
at Hamilton 66 OT
Plattsburgh State 65
at Amherst 83
Hamilton 59
Amherst 90 OT
Tufts 85
at Cortland St. 68
Mass.-Boston 54
Tufts 68
Cortland St. 65
Tufts 83
Endicott 60
at Norwich 82
Elms 70
at St. John Fisher 71
Norwich 50
St. John Fisher 94
Utica 78
at WPI 79
Bridgewater State 62
Utica 76
at WPI 58
Utica 71
Gordon 66
First Round Second Round Sectionals at Wittenberg
at Wittenberg 76
Lake Erie 40
at Wittenberg 78
Baldwin-Wallace 60
Wittenberg 56
Hope 49
Baldwin-Wallace 79
Carnegie Mellon 71
at Hope 93
Wisconsin Lutheran 51
at Hope 70
Calvin 67
Calvin 79
UW-La Crosse 71
at Transylvania 75
Bethany 56
at Transylvania 91
Wooster 88
Transylvania 76
Mississippi College 64
Wooster 84
Randolph-Macon 70
at Mississippi College 88
Maryville (Mo.) 58
at Mississippi College 69
Maryville (Tenn.) 51
Maryville (Tenn.) 83
Trinity (Texas) 64