ASTON, Pa. – Nichols and Endicott will meet in the Second Round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Tournament after both teams picked up First Round wins on Friday night. The Gulls earned their Second Round berth in the early game with a 71-68 win over No. 16 Salisbury, while the Bison set up the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship rematch with a 96-93 win over regional host No. 11 Neumann. Game time is set for tomorrow, March 4 at 7 p.m.
With both teams advancing to the Second Round, it guarantees that a CCC men's basketball team will reach the Third Round (Sweet 16) of the DIII national championship for the first time since Anna Maria accomplished the feat in the 1995-96 season.
The Bison hold the series edge over the Gulls this season. The teams split the regular-season series with each team picking up the win at home. In their last meeting, in the CCC Tournament Championship, Nichols was victorious, 67-64.
The winner of tomorrow's game will be one of 16 second-round winners and will advance to one of four sectional-round sites March 10-11. Winners of the four sectional games will advance to the semi-finals and finals March 17 and 18. All games, except the semifinals and finals, will be played on the campuses of competing institutions. The semifinals and finals will be conducted at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.
Endicott 71, No.16 Salisbury 68
ASTON, Pa. — The Endicott men's basketball team pulled together when it mattered most to finish off No. 16 Salisbury University, 71-68, Friday night inside The Mirenda Center in the opening round of the NCAA DIII Tournament.
In a strong defensive showing from both sides in the early going, Endicott started the game with a 5-0 run before the Sea Gulls stormed back to go up 15-10 at 12:00 for their largest lead of the contest.
The Gulls regained the lead, 21-18, on freshman guard Keith Brown's (Pelham, N.H.) trey at the 5:12 mark.
Senior guard Max Motroni (West Warwick, R.I.) led the floor with 12 of his 18 points on the night in the first half as Endicott grew its edge to an eight-point margin and took a 31-25 lead into the locker room at the break.
After trading buckets for most of the second half, the Gulls played tight defense and scored 20 points off of 13 Salisbury turnovers in the game that proved to be the difference.
Senior guard Kamahl Walker (Worcester, Mass.) made arguably his most important layup of the season to give Endicott a 69-68 advantage with 21 seconds left and hit pair of free throws.
One last inbounds play with 0:02 on the clock was Salisbury's only hope for a game-tying miracle, but the airmail pass was batted away by none other than Gulls' two-sport student-athlete Chris Lipscomb (West Springfield, Mass.) channeling his best leaping tight end in the end zone impression.
Walker's game-high 32 points carried the Gulls into the NCAA Second Round for the second time program history.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- The game featured eight tied scores and 16 lead changes.
- Endicott is now 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament under the direction of head coach Kevin Bettencourt in his third year with the program.
- Endicott is now 2-1 against nationally-ranked opponents this season.
- Endicott is now 1-0 against Salisbury as tonight was the first-ever meeting.
- The Gulls' senior class is now one win shy of becoming the winningest class to ever come through the Endicott men's basketball program.
- Lipscomb chipped in five points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go with his timely defense.
FOR THE FOES
- The Sea Gulls earned their third-consecutive berth into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history for also their eighth overall appearance (also a Pool C at-large bid).
- Salisbury placed three student-athletes in double figures as senior forward Wyatt Smith (Abingdon, Md.) led the way with 15, followed by 13 from senior forward Gordon Jeter (Easton, Md.) and 11 from senior guard Justin Witmer (Gaithersburg, Md.).
- Jeter also pulled down a game-high nine boards as the Sea Gulls out rebounded the Gulls, 43-34.
- The Sea Gulls have now lost four of their past five games.
- As one of roughly 13 teams from the Northeast Region to enter the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17, this is the first time since the 2005-06 season that the CCC is sending two teams (Endicott and Nichols) from its conference to the Big Dance.
- After appearing in their third conference title game in the past five years, the Gulls are making their eighth overall NCAA appearance (third consecutive) in program history and first-ever as an at-large selection.
- Last season, Endicott advanced to the Second Round for the first time ever with an 84-76 win over host No. 22 Catholic, before falling in overtime to Wooster, 91-83.
Game recap courtesy of the Endicott Sports Information Department.
Nichols 96, No. 11 Neumann 93
ASTON, Pa. – Freshman DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.) scored a game-high 28 points to propel the Nichols College men's basketball team to a 96-93 win over No. 11 Neumann University in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night at The Mirenda Center.
Sophomore Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.) chipped in with 18 points – including 10-for-10 from the charity stripe – and freshman Tyler Dion (Barre, Mass.) knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Freshman Jerome Cunningham (Westbury, N.Y.) played the final eight minutes with four fouls and filled the stat sheet with 15 points, five rebounds, and four blocks. The win marks the first win for the Bison in the NCAA Tournament in program history.
Neumann senior Carl Wallace (Philadelphia, Pa.) led five student-athletes in double figures with 23 points (11-of-19 FG) while classmate Darian Barnes (Yeadon, Pa.) went 10-of-10 from the line and finished with 22 points, a game-high 15 boards, six assists and four blocks. Senior DeShawn Lowman (Wilmington, Del.) posted 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Bruton led all student-athletes with 17 first-half points – including 4-of-4 from the free throw line – and also notched four rebounds and three dimes. Wallace and Lowman each netted 11 points for the Knights, who shot 50 percent in the opening frame. The Bison knocked down 49 percent of their shots, but were outrebounded 24-18.
The Knights opened up a 78-71 lead at 9:05 of the second following a layup by Lowman. The Bison answered with a 9-1 run to tie the game at 80 on a pair of free throws from Bruton with 6:26 remaining. Wallace gave his squad an 86-85 lead at the 3:15 mark with a layup, but Echevarria canned his second three of the game at the other end to put the Bison up two (88-86) at 2:58.
Barnes was then fouled and made both, tying the game at 88 with a shade over two minutes left. On the ensuing possession, Echevarria stole the ball and was fouled, and he made both to give NC a 90-88 lead. Following a Neumann turnover, Echevarria then made two more free throws to put NC up 92-88 with 1:13 remaining.
Neumann answered with a three to cut its deficit to one (92-91). At the other end, Echevarria drove the lane and dumped the ball off to senior Devin Stallings (Waterbury, Conn.), who dropped it in to give Nichols a three-point lead at 94-91. The Knights refused to go away, cutting the deficit to one once again with a basket from Barnes with 23 seconds left. Echevarria was then fouled to stop the clock, and he sank both to make it 96-93.
With 12 seconds remaining, the Bison fouled on the inbounds pass to put the Knights at the line for 1-and-1. Lowman missed the first, Cunningham snared the rebound, and the Bison ran out the clock.
Nichols committed just six turnovers and shot 25-of-31 from the line (81 percent). The Knights outrebounded the 47-33. Stallings finished the night with 12 points and four rebounds.
Tonight's contest marked the first all-time meeting between Nichols College and Neumann University. The Bison now lead the series, 1-0.
Game recap courtesy of the Nichols Sports Information Department.
NCAA Tournament First Round
Friday, March 3 (at Neumann University)
NCAA Tournament Second Round
Saturday, March 4 (at Neumann University)
Endicott vs. Nichols, 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and three associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference currently administers championships in 16 intercollegiate sports with that number set to increase next year with the addition of football.