FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Cam Wiley didn’t want his Swarthmore career to end. The Garnet’s All-American guard made plays at all the right times, including a game-sealing free throw, finished with a team-high 23 points, and led Swarthmore to a 70-63 win over Christopher Newport at Memorial Coliseum in the NCAA Division III men’s basketball semifinal. The Garnet will play for the national championship on Saturday.
“I was a little emotional after the win because you’re just fortunate to do it with people you love and people you’re with every day,” Wiley said. “There’s nothing better than experiencing that with people you call brothers.”
Swarthmore (29-3) extended its winning streak to 15 games, and the Garnet did it behind what got them this far -- defense. They held Christopher Newport (29-4) to 32 percent shooting from the field.
“That’s what we’ve done most of the year," coach Landry Kosmalski said. "We really guard people with high IQ, and good toughness and a team-of-five mentality, That was what carried us through some of the lulls offensively.”
The Garnet led for all but 17 seconds, largely due to the dominance of Zac O’Dell and Nate Shafer in the paint. O’Dell finished with 13 points and Shafer notched a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. The pair combined for nine blocks.
“Me and Nate are going against each other every day in practice,” O’Dell said. “We got other bigs that are tough to guard, so just going up against those guys all year long really helps your one-on-one skills. I think that really showed today.”
Christopher Newport used a pair of three-pointers from Adrian Beasley and Jason Aigner with less than a minute to play to cut the Garnet lead to four, but swarming defense and some timely free throws kept Swarthmore on top.
The Captains’ Marcus Carter scored a game-high 25 points, but he did it on 6-of-18 shooting from the field.