SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Anthony Atkinson scored 10 points in
the final 39 seconds, including a layup at the buzzer, to give
Barton College its first NCAA Division II title with a 77-75
victory over previously unbeaten and defending champion Winona
Barton ended Winona's two-year, 57-game winning streak and
survived a review of the final play by the officials.
"I was just thinking about the next play," Atkinson said. "I
got a bucket, then another and the next thing you know, the game's
Winona appeared poised to repeat as champion when Zach Malvik
made two free throws to put the Minnesota school ahead 74-67 with
45 seconds left. Three straight baskets by Atkinson made it 74-73,
then Jonte Flowers hit one of two foul shots to put Winona in front
75-73 with 19 seconds remaining.
Atkinson made a layup to tie it with 11 seconds to go. Bobby
Buffaloe then made a steal, tipping the ball away from Malvik right
to Atkinson, who raced down court and scored the winning basket
just before time expired.
The play was reviewed by the officials, but it stood and for the
second time during the tournament, an unbeaten team fell.
"Our team played tremendously," Barton coach Ron Lievense
said. "We had all three games in the tournament go down to the
wire. This team has faced so much adversity, but we never stopped
Atkinson scored 29 points for Barton (31-5). Malvik scored 26
for Winona (35-1), which had defeated previously unbeaten Bentley
in the quarterfinals.
"You can't find a better ending," Lievense said. "All I said
to Anthony at the end was that it was time for him to take over."
Barton's fans held "We Believe" signs in the stands. The
school, which played and won nine overtime games this season,
trailed by seven points with less than a minute remaining.
"This is so tough to swallow," Winona forward Quincy Henderson
said. "And I'm still trying to figure out what happened."