St. Louis, Mo, March 5, 2015 – The No. 14-ranked Washington University in St. Louis men's basketball team had its season come to an end with an 83-73 loss to DePauw University in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Division III Championship Thursday at the WU Field House.
DePauw led by five at halftime, but WashU battled back to take the lead with 16:02 left. From that point, the teams played to two ties and changed leads 12 times before the Tigers scored the final 11 points of the game, including 7-of-8 at the free-throw line. DePauw was 8-of-13 at FT line in the second half, including 7-of-8 in final 1:10 of the game.
WashU finished the season with a 20-6 record. DePauw improved to 20-9, and advanced to a second-round matchup at Augustana College Saturday at 7 p.m. in Rock Island, Ill.
"We got back in to the game playing with poise and withstanding the physicality of the game," said Washington U. head coach Mark Edwards, who coached his 900th career game. "At the very end, we lost our poise and lost the game."
After trailing by five at half, WashU chipped away and a driving layup by senior Nick Burt pulled the Bears to within 45-42 with 17:30 remaining. DePauw's Tommy Fernitz converted a three-point play to regain a 48-42 advantage for the Tigers. Palucki hit back-to-back shots and senior David Fatoki buried a three to give WashU a 49-48 lead with 16:02 to play.
Fernitz scored the next four points to regain a 52-49 lead for DePauw, but a putback by Burt and a pair of free throws by junior Luke Silverman-Lloyd gave the Bears the lead back with 12:24 left. Bradley Fey hit back-to-back threes for the Tigers to stretch their lead to 63-56, before Fatoki answered with his third triple of the game to spark an 8-0 run for the Bears.
Fatoki made a pair of free throws after a technical was called on the Tigers to give WashU a 64-63 lead with 6:23 remaining. The teams traded baskets before DePauw's Bob Dillon rattled in a three to make it 68-66 in favor of the Tigers. Fatoki answered with a fastbreak layup on the other end to tie the game again. After another tie at 70-70, the teams traded leads and senior Matt Palucki scored on an in-bounds play to give the Bears the lead at 73-72 with 2:22 left.
Fatoki had his seventh career double-double with 19 points and 10 assists. He finished the season with 198 assists, sixth most in a single-season in school history. Burt added 14 points and seven boards, while Palucki (13) and Silverman-Lloyd (10) also scored in double figures. WashU shot 44.4 percent (24-of-54) from the field, and hit just 4-of-15 from three-point range. The Bears had a 31-14 advantage in points off turnovers, but were outrebounded 35-27.
"We wanted to come out with energy tonight. I think we came in with the right mindset but they played really well," Fatoki said. "They came out and had the upper hand in the first half with their energy on their defense."
WashU scored nine of its first 11 points off DePauw turnovers and took an 11-3 lead with 16:22 to play in the first half after a jumper by Silverman-Lloyd. The Tigers answered with a 19-5 run, including 5-of-6 from three, to turn the deficit into a 22-16 lead.
DePauw continued its hot shooting and took its largest lead of the half at 32-20 on a pull-up jumper by Luke Lattner with 8:13 to play. After WashU went 4:46 without a field goal, junior Mitch Styczynski scored six straight points to bring the Bears to within 32-26, before a three by Lattner extended the Tigers' lead back to nine.
Silverman-Lloyd hit a jumper and sophomore Clinton Hooks buried a fastbreak three after a steal by Fatoki to make it a four-point game. DePauw answered with its ninth three of the half, before junior Brandon Staffeil and Styczynski made four straight free throws for the Bears to pull to within 38-35 with 1:48 left. The Tigers got a layup in the final 20 seconds of the half to head to the locker room with a 40-35 lead.
DePauw hit a season-high 14-of-21 three-pointers, and shot 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field. Lattner led six Tigers in double figures with 18 points off the bench. DePauw had a 48-9 advantage in bench points in the win.
Bear Notebook: The Tigers leads the all-time series with WashU, 18-10, and have won both all-time meetings in the NCAA Tournament … Palucki appeared in his 107th career game, tied for sixth most in school history, while Burt played his 100th career game … All six of the Bears' losses in 2014-15 came after trailing at half … WashU has played its last nine NCAA Tournament games at home, sporting a 4-5 record … The Bears were making its 19th NCAA Division III Tournament appearance, and has a 32-17 (.653) record .. WashU is 11-1 all-time at home in NCAA First Round Games … The Class of 2015 finished with an 85-22 (.794), the sixth most wins by a class in school history.