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About the 2006 Division III
men's basketball tournament

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Marlins finish long run with title
The 2005-06 season hinges on Dec. 2, 2005. After that date, neither Virginia Wesleyan nor the Hope women lost again as each ran through the rest of the season to win the Division III basketball national championships.

In Salem, Ton Ton Balenga buried a three-pointer from the top of the key with 2.1 seconds left to give Virginia Wesleyan a 59-56 win against Wittenberg in the Division III men's basketball championship game.

It's the South's first national title since LeMoyne-Owen won the first Division III national championship in 1975, and it's been a long climb for Virginia Wesleyan, Pat Coleman recalls.

The Marlins trailed by 10 points four times in the second half before outscoring the Tigers 26-13 in the final 10 minutes. Balenga, the Most Outstanding Player of the championships, scored 12 of his 22 points in that stretch.

Hear the winning three-pointer, Pat Coleman and Dave McHugh on the call. Photo gallery.

"Tyler (Fantin) set the best screen I ever got in my life," said Balenga. "When it left my hand I thought it was going to be kind of right, but it went in. I almost lost it a little."

Virginia Wesleyan shot 26% in the first half before going 16-for-28 from the floor in the second half. The Marlins won both Final Four games by three points or less, as well as all three ODAC tournament games played on the same floor.

Illinois Wesleyan defeated Amherst 71-68 in the third-place game. From Salem, Adam Dauksas, Keelan Amelianovich, Brandon Adair, Dan Russ and John Bedford were named All-Americans.

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2006 tournament bracket (released Monday morning)
Our Selection Sunday projections

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