Warren Wilson College wins national basketball championship

Photo via Twitter by Warren Wilson College President Steven Solnick

Here’s the report from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa:

In front of a capacity crowd, ninth-seeded Warren Wilson College won its first USCAA National Championship defeating host Penn State Fayette 76-68 on Saturday night. The victory is the 12th straight for the Owls and caps off four wins in four days to secure the championship.

Fayette made five of its first seven three-point attempts to take a 31-23 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half. The Owls answered with a 10-5 run to pull within three at the break.

After two Fayette free throws to open the second half, Warren Wilson went on a 12-0 run capped off by one of Raysean Love’s game-high four three-point field goals. The Owls pushed the lead to 10 after another Love three-pointer with 14 minutes to play.

Fayette charged back with a 15-5 run to even the score with just seven minutes remaining. The game was still tied at the five minute mark when the Owls scored on a three from Love, a jumper from Dan Jackson, and two free throws from Patrick Albright to pull ahead by seven with two minutes to play. Warren Wilson finished the game by making ten consecutive free throws to seal the win.

Love led the Owls with 22 points. Anthony Barringer added 13 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists while Rashad Ali scored 14 with six rebounds. Warren Wilson finished the game with a 48-22 rebounding advantage and limited Fayette to just 33% shooting in the second half.

For his performance all week, Love was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Barringer and Rashad Ali were named to the All-Tournament team while Dylan Johnson and Ty Johnson were named Academic All-Americans.

And here’s an excerpt of an Asheville Citizen-Times article, “Owls dreamed big, and it paid off.”:

A large crowd for a Warren Wilson basketball game is about 100 students, faculty and girlfriends — maybe a buck fifty if the Owls are playing rival Montreat.

But they dream big.

“I don’t see us losing up there,” senior guard Dan Jackson, of Chicago, said before the trip to Pennsylvania for the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament, where the Owls were the ninth seed in the 10-team event.

Pretty confident talk for a team whose history includes decades of losing, of a 57-game losing streak, a five-year run (2002-07) in which the program won a total of nine games.

WWC is where basketball is played only after required jobs are completed, 100 hours of community service are part of the four-year plan and studies are finished.

But the Owls got a taste last year by finishing with a winning record (16-9) — the first in almost 30 years — but didn’t get an invite to the national tourney.

But they dream big.

“Absolutely not!” was Raysean Love’s immediate and definitive response when asked Sunday on the nine-hour bus ride from Uniontown, Pa., to Swannanoa if he was surprised his team had played so well, winning four games in four days and claiming the national title.

“This is what we have talked about since the preseason, winning a national championship — that’s all we talked about. We believed, believed we could do it, believed in coach (Greg) Neeley and were willing to put the work in to get it done.”

Kevin Walden helped rebuild a losing program at WWC but left just before the start of this season to take another coaching job.


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