Nebraska Wesleyan fires on all cylinders to win national title

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Cooper Cook shooting on the baseline for Nebraska Wesleyan.
Cooper Cook was voted the most outstanding player of the Division III national championship.
Photo by Dave Hilbert,

Jack Hiller drained a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:17 left to give Nebraska Wesleyan the lead and the Prairie Wolves never looked back as they went on to defeat UW-Oshkosh 78-72 and win the 2018 Division III men's basketball national championship.

At the end of a battle of 3-point baskets, it was Hiller's which put Nebraska Wesleyan (30-3) ahead for good and gave the program its first national title in five trips to the NCAA Division III Final Four. 

The teams went toe-to-toe in the first half, with NWU taking its first lead, at 45-43, on a 3-pointer by Nate Schimonitz at the buzzer. It capped a 20-minute span in which the teams combined for 18 3-point baskets. 

Nebraska Wesleyan went on a 15-3 run in the second half to take a 68-58 lead, capped off by a 3-pointer by All-American Ryan Garver. 

AWith UW-Oshkosh having missed five consecutive 3-pointers, Ben Boots began to heat back up. He scored 12 of the next 14 points for the Titans (25-8), including a 30-footer as part of consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 72-72 with 2:52 left. Hiller answered with the go-ahead shot. Oshkosh turned the ball over twice on its next two possessions, including allowing the shot clock to expire, before NWU grabbed a 77-72 advantage on a Schimonitz jump shot in the lane with 32 seconds to play. 

Junior Cooper Cook was named the tournament MVP as he led the Prairie Wolves in scoring for a second straight night. Cook scored 16 points, making 4-6 from 3-point range. Schimonitz was named to the All-Tournament team as he finished with 15 points and six assists, hitting 3-4 from long range. Hiller was named to the team as well.

Boots scored 24 points, including six 3-point baskets, to pace all players. UW-Oshkosh also received 14 points and five assists from Charlie Noone, as well as 12 points and two rebounds from Brett Wittchow. Boots and Brett Wittchow were named to the five-member all-tournament team.

UW-Oshkosh finished 17-of-40 from 3-point range, while Nebraska Wesleyan was 14-for-22, 63.6 percent.