FORT WAYNE, Ind. - No. 6 Swarthmore defeated No. 9 Christopher Newport 70-63 in the NCAA Division III men's basketball semifinals on Friday evening, sending the Garnet to the national championship game for the first time ever.
Swarthmore (29-3) will take on No. 4 Wisconsin-Oshkosh (28-3) in Saturday's national title game at 7 p.m. Wisconsin-Oshkosh downed Wheaton (Ill.) 104-85 in Friday's other semifinal contest.
With the victory, the Garnet become just the second team in Centennial Conference history to advance to the men's basketball national title game. Franklin & Marshall finished as the national runner-up in 1991, falling to Wisconsin-Platteville 81-74.
The Garnet contained the Captains, holding them to just 32.3 percent from the floor for the game. Swarthmore, meanwhile, shot 49.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.
All-American senior guard Cam Wiley led the Garnet with 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting while also collecting eight rebounds.
Swarthmore got a combined 25 points from big men Zac O'Dell and Nate Shafer plus nine blocks between the two of them. O'Dell went 6-for-9 from the floor with five rebounds and four blocks. Shafer picked up his fourth double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also blocked a game-high five shots, dealt out two assists and had two steals.
Freshman George Visconti pitched in seven points and five rebounds. Ryan Ingram and Justin Tucker added a bucket a piece.
CNU was led by Marcus Carter who posted 25 points in 40 minutes of action on 6-of-18 shooting from the field and 11-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line.
Swarthmore picked up an early double-digit lead, going ahead 18-7 eight minutes in. A jumper from Wiley combined with a pair of back-to-back layups from O'Dell gave Swarthmore that 11-point lead. O'Dell's layup to make it 18-7 came off of a great pump fake at the arc and then a hard drive to the cup.
CNU wouldn't go away and cut Swarthmore's lead down to 3-points with 4:49 to go in the first. The Garnet responded with a quick 8-0 run that was capped off with a deep triple from Harkins, who went 3-for-4 from deep.
The Garnet brought a seven-point lead into the locker room at halftime but came out cold in the second half, going the first four minutes without a basket. CNU tied the score in the meantime. Swarthmore then darted out on a quick 7-0 that included a stellar sequence from O'Dell who had a block on one end followed by a layup, a defensive rebound, and then an and-one.
A highlight reel spin move from Wiley led to a fastbreak layup with 10:02 to go to put Swarthmore ahead 52-44. Christopher Newport kept pushing to keep it a one or two possession game. A 3-pointer by the Captains cut Swarthmore's lead to 60-54 with 4:17 to go. A tough possession for Swarthmore on the offensive end had the Garnet heaving up an attempt to beat the shot clock but Shafer snagged the air ball in one of the biggest offensive rebounds of the game and put it away for two.
Wiley knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:29 to go to ice the game for the Garnet. Swarthmore connected on five free throws the rest of the way to secure the 70-63 victory.
Saturday night's championship will be broadcast live on http://www.cbssports.com/cbssn and broadcast on television on tape delay on the CBS SPORTS channel at 11 PM EDT.