It's Central Region times two in men's title game

More news about: Augustana | UW-Stevens Point

Nic Hoepfner throws down two of his nine points for Augustana.
Photo by Keith Lucas for
Austin Ryf hit his baskets early and his free throws late.
Photo by Keith Lucas for

When the WIAC got moved into the Central Region in Division III men's basketball, we knew it would be an even bigger player on the national stage. And on Friday night, representatives of the region's heavyweight conferences set up a meeting for the title.

Augustana and UW-Stevens Point each won their national semifinal games, setting up an all-Central Region title game on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Pregame coverage starts at 2 p.m.

UW-Stevens Point hit four 3-pointers in the final 5:45 of the first half to rally from a seven-point deficit, then took the offense into the post in the second half to win 68-59. Austin Ryf, who had a huge first half with 13 points and three 3-pointers led all scorers with 21 points, while Alex Richard added 17. Sophomore guard Khory Moore led Virginia Wesleyan with 18.

"They brought out the best in us," said Pointers coach Bob Semling. "We’ve been playing really good basketball down the stretch. We’ve been sound, we’ve been good and then we find a way to be great."

In the first game, after seeing Babson erase its 13-point halftime lead, Augustana went back to work, outscoring the Beavers 25-3 over the game's final seven and a half minutes to win the NCAA Division III semifinal 68-48 and earn a trip to Saturday's national championship game. The sixth-ranked Vikings improved to 27-4 on the year, while fourth-ranked Babson suffered just its third setback in 32 outings this season.

When Beavers sophomoreJoey Flannery converted a pair of free throws with 7:41 to play, it gave Babson its first lead of the night at 45-43 and completed the team's comeback from a 32-19 halftime deficit. Augustana, which had scored just 11 second-half points, looked to be in trouble on the next possession as well, but junior Griffin Pils hit a step-back 3-pointer from the left wing as the shot clock expired to regain the lead.

Flannery scored again to put the Beavers up one final time, 47-46, but junior Hunter Hill answered with another trey and the Vikings wouldn't trail again. Augustana closed the game on 22-1 run over the final 6:04 to win going away.