Ho-Chunk Nation member Bronson Koenig hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to seal a 66-63 victory over the second-seeded Xavier Musketteers, sending the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen for the third straight year and the fifth time in the last six years.
After the game, Koenig gave a nod to his heritage via Twitter:
That was for all my Natives out there, & my team, & of course the true fans out there!! Thank you.
— Bronson Koenig (@BronsonK_24) March 21, 2016
The seventh-seeded Badgers overcame a night of cold shooting by star forward Nigel Hayes, who spent much of the second half on the bench with foul trouble and finished with just six points.
The Musketeers led by as many as eight in the closing minutes, but the Badgers tied the score on a Koenig three-pointer with 11 seconds to play. An offensive foul called on Xavier’s Edmond Sumner with 4.3 seconds on the clock gave the Badgers the ball for the final play.
“This group would not quit, would not give in,” said head coach Greg Gard, who took over in December when former coach Bo Ryan abruptly retired. “I can’t be more proud of a group of young men that have withstood every challenge that’s come at them, every adversity piece that’s been thrown their way, they’re an unbelievable group to coach. They listen. They respond. They work. It’s not always perfect. Tonight wasn’t perfect. But it’s a group that has really bonded together and when you have a group that’s this tight and growing tighter by the day, I think you are going to have some special things happen.”
Koenig finished with six three-pointers and a game-high 20 points overall. Ethan Happ scored 18 and Vito Brown added 12.
“I knew it was going in before it even left my hand,” said Koenig of the winning shot. “That’s a shot I practice quite a bit pregame with Nigel Hayes one-on-one and I do a lot of step-backs in the corner. I let it fly and I knew it was going in. I can’t really explain the feeling after I hit it.”
The Badgers head to Philadelphia for a Friday matchup with Notre Dame, who beat Stephen F. Austin with a last-second tip-in earlier Sunday.
“We’ll enjoy it tonight and the flight back home,” said Gard. “And then we’ll start to put together a plan with our staff on how we’re going to approach the week. We’ll work on that with the staff, with Notre Dame, maybe starting already on the flight home. But we’ll enjoy this for at least through tonight for sure.”