The Webster University Men’s basketball team is going to the NCAA III Tournament. The Gorloks (20-7) defeated Spalding University (19-8) 55-51 on the road at the Derek Smith Gymnasium in Louisville to win the SLIAC championship game. This marks the second time in four years the team has made the NCAA Tournament, according to the Webster Athletics website.
The Gorloks trailed the reigning SLIAC champion Spalding Golden Eagles by one with 3:05 to play, when Webster freshmen Hunter Ward drilled a three pointer to give Webster a 52-50 lead, which they would not surrender, according to a Webster Athletics article. Despite several missed free throws that would have iced the game in the final minutes, the Webster defense stiffened and did not allow Spalding a successful field goal in the final three minutes.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, like it was Thursday night against MacMurray (semifinal). We feel really good about it, I can’t remember anyone beating two teams in the tournament with nineteen wins like MacMurray and Spalding,” Webster Head Coach Chris Brunch said.
Sophomore Kevin Miller led the Gorloks in scoring with 19 points, and pulled down 13 rebounds. This was Miller’s ninth double-double of the season.
“We went into the game with a conscious effort to take advantage Kevin’s size,” Brunch said.
The center from Belleville IL was named the SLIAC tournament MVP. Miller has been instrumental throughout the tournament, and provided 21 points and 12 rebounds in Webster’s semifinal victory over MacMurray College.
Junior Ahmad Smith added 11 points against Spalding, giving him a career total of 990, just 10 away from the elusive 1,000 point-club. Ward chipped in with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals along with the critical go-ahead 3. Like Miller, Ward earned a selection to the SLIAC All-Tournament team.
A critical turning point in the game happened just before halftime. Down 27-20, Webster went on a 9-0 run courtesy of two Miller buckets and 5 free throws and entered the locker room with a two point advantage.
After starting the season 5-5 the red-hot Gorloks have now rattled off 15 wins in their last 17 games and by all indications are peaking at the right time.