Barton tops D-II defending champ for first D-II title

Updated: March 24, 2007, 8:06 PM ET
Associated Press

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 State.

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 over."

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 believing."

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."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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