St. Thomas Tommies 82
Benedictine Eagles 76
After a landmark 30-3 season, the Tommies managed to hold off a late-game surge from formerly-undefeated Benedictine to bring a second NCAA Division III championship trophy back home to St.Paul.
With only two players sitting on the bench in reserve, the Tommies relied on the heroic isolation play of Seniors Taylor Montero and Ryan Saarela, who scored near career-highs at 27 and 26 points, respectively. While the Tommies only tallied 4 assists the entire game, their high-flying offense shot an efficient 50% on the night.
Montero cashed in at the free-throw line all game, scoring 10 points on 12 attempts at the line. Both Montero and Saarela had double-doubles as well, helping the Tommies edge out Benedictine in a pitched 36 to 32 rebounding battle.
After putting together a 12 point lead in the second half, St. Thomas was forced to fend off a late-game rally from the Eagles, who pulled within two points in the final two minutes. Montero shouldered his team with a strong drive for a layup, and senior guard Cortez Tillman sealed the win with a pair of free-throws.
According to St. Thomas, this win marks the end of a storied career for the Tommies' senior varsity class, who will graduate with a record of 106 wins and just 15 losses.