March 4, 2012 in Sports

Whitworth heads to Wisconsin

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The frequent-flier miles are piling up at Whitworth, and so are the wins.

Fresh off two victories in Texas, the seventh-ranked Pirate men’s basketball team will travel to Whitewater, Wisc., this week for the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament.

The Pirates will play sixth-ranked Virginia Wesleyan in a sectional game Friday afternoon, the NCAA announced Sunday.

Game times won’t be finalized until today, but the Whitworth game is expected to precede the game between host and No. 8 Wisconsin-Whitewater and No. 24 Wheaton of Illionois.

Whitewater is located in southern Wisconsin, about an hour west of Milwaukee.

The winners will play Saturday for a spot in the Division III Final Four in Salem, Va.

Whitworth, 26-3, advanced to its third straight sectional by defeating McMurry 90-79 and Trinity 64-53 in the first and second rounds this past weekend at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas.

The Pirates had hoped to host the first and second-round games, but ironically that was awarded to Virginia Wesleyan.

VWU, also 26-3, was awarded a first-round bye and defeated St. Mary’s (Md.) 70-57 at home in the second round. The Marlins are champions of the Old Dominion Athletics Conference and won the NCAA Division III championship in 2006.

Now both teams will meet in the middle of the country.

Whitworth and VWU have never played. The Pirates’ only game against a team from the ODAC was the 2009 sectional semifinal loss to Eastern Mennonite at Guilford, N.C.

The Pirates had a chance to host the third round, but any possibility of that was erased when Claremont-Mudd-Scripps – the only other West Coast team in the field – was eliminated.

The Pirates, who came to this regional as the only school not from the state of Texas, improved to 26-3 and advanced to their third straight NCAA Division III Sweet 16 and their fourth overall. The Tigers, who knocked off 10th-ranked UMHB on its home floor on Friday night, finish the season 21-9.

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