Witt leads SCSU into Final Four
Taylor Witt saved his best for when his team needed it most. The St. Cloud State junior guard from Morris poured in a career-high 43 points as the Huskies edged Midwestern State 91-88 in the Division II men's basketball Elite Eight Wednesday at Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
Witt broke former San Antonio Spurs legend Geroge Gervin's NCAA Elite Eight free-throw record for at-tempts and makes when he sank 22-of-23 from the charity stripe.
"I was really feeling it today," said Witt, by telephone after the game. "I was coming off screens and making shots and I was making my free throws. It was just one of those days you wish you had all the time."
The Huskies (24-5), in the Final Four for the first time in the program's history, will take on Indiana (Pa.) at 5 p.m. today in one of the Final Four games. The championship is Saturday.
The last time SCSU was in the Elite Eight was 1987.
After scoring only five points in the first half, Witt caught fire and scored 38 points in the second half.
"My teammates were really doing a good job of setting screens for me," said Witt, who is averaging 15.9 points-per-game this season. "Especially Matt (Schneck, an All-American xxxxxx). I could definitely tell my stroke felt good and I wasn't missing much so I just kept shooting."
Schneck finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Witt, a three-time All-Area guard in basketball and two-time All-Area quarterback at Morris, made 9-of-17 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. He also had two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
"Early in the game I was driving down the lane and one of (Midwestern State's) defenders came out to contest me and he was a couple of inches taller than me," said Witt. "So I put twice the arch on the shot I normally do. It was a rainbow shot and it went in. That's when I felt like everything I threw up there was going in."
Witt's only missed free throw came in the second half. The next time he had the ball, he was foul-ed and ended up laying on the floor under the basket. He immediately did a couple of quick push ups after the play.
"I just wanted to make sure I was strong so I didn't miss again," he laughed. "I wasn't trying to show anyone up. I was just focused on the game and making my shots."
Witt's career high came in high school when he scored 47 points against Lac qui Parle Valley. But, as he noted, that came in two overtimes.
He must have been "feeling it" that day, too.