STEVENS POINT, Wis. - The top-ranked UW-Stevens Point men's basketball team survived an upset attempt by Marian University but escaped with a 66-64 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon at Bennett Court at Quandt Fieldhouse.
UW-Stevens Point (27-1) led by two with 2.5 seconds remaining in the game after Tyler Tilemma made the second of two free throws after trying to miss the attempt. After two UWSP timeouts, Jeff Harris got a good look at a potential game-winning three-pointer from the corner for Marian (22-7) but the shot rimmed out and the Pointers advanced to face Central, who defeated St. Olaf 85-72, at 7 p.m.
After trailing for most of the game, UW-Stevens Point took its biggest lead of the game at 65-59 with 1:49 remaining. However, Sam Koslowski hit a jumper and Harris followed with a three to cut the deficit to one, setting up the frantic finish.
Marian led 35-30 at halftime after Alex Stecker made a three helped the Sabres close the half on a 7-2 run. After the first 38 seconds of the second half, neither team led by more than four until the final two minutes of the game. The teams were tied on 10 occasions in the game and the lead changed five times.
The Sabres held a 46-42 lead with 14:59 remaining before the Pointers took a four-point lead after an 11-3 run. Trevor Hass capped the run with a three-pointer, one of his seven in the game. During the run, UW-Stevens Point took its first lead of the second half with 13:34 to go. Hass shot 9-for-13 from the field and 7-for-10 from behind the arc to score a game-high 25 points.
Marian got off to a blistering start to the game, taking a 19-8 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. The Sabres held the Pointers to just eight points in the opening eight minutes of play and got baskets from six different players to take the only double-digit lead of the game.
Trailing by six, 24-18, at the 6:37 mark of the first half, UWSP scored eight points in a row to take its first lead of the game with just under five minutes to go before the break. Back-to-back threes by Hass provided six of the eight Pointers points in the spurt.
In addition to the sharp shooting of Hass, Tillema had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting, while grabbing five rebounds and five assists. Joe Ritchay chipped in with nine, Clayton Heuer added seven points and six rebounds and Austin Ryf contributed six points, five rebounds and four assists.
Cody Veleke led Marian with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Harris came off the bench to score 13 on three made three-pointers for the Sabres, while Alex Stecker made three from behind the arc and scored 11 points.
The Pointers shot at least 50.0 percent in both halves, including 60.9 percent in the second, and finished at 55.3 percent for the game. After shooting 50.0 percent in the first half, Marian cooled off to 40.0 percent in the second and ended at 45.3 percent. UW-Stevens Point held a 36-18 advantage in points in the paint but Marian used an 18-7 edge in bench points, led by Harris.
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