Updated with Sectional site and game times.
ASTON, Pa. – Endicott became the first Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) team since Anna Maria in 1995-96 to reach the Third Round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship after the Gulls won the CCC Championship rematch with Nichols, 111-75.
The Gulls will meet No. 6 Middlebury in the Sweet 16 after the Panthers defeated No. 15 Lycoming in their Second Round contest. When Endicott and Middlebury met earlier this season, the Gulls picked up the road win, 93-89.
The Panthers were named one of the four NCAA Sectional hosts and will play Endicott at 7:30 p.m. The two other teams in the four team pod are No. 17 Susquehanna and Williams. They will play the early game at 5:30. The two Third Round winners will advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m.
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 111, Nichols 75
ASTON, Pa. — The Endicott men's basketball team tasted sweet victory over a familiar foe, Nichols College, 111-75, Saturday night inside The Mirenda Center in the Second Round of the NCAA DIII Tournament to make the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in program history.
In what looked to be the makings of another instant classic in this Second Round showdown, each team answered bucket for bucket in the opening minutes
Nichols managed a seven-point edge with 15:37 remaining in the opening stanza before senior guard Max Motroni (West Warwick, R.I.) rallied the troops to lead the floor in the first half for the second night in a row.
Motroni dropped 22 of his 34 career-high points in the frame and helped the Gulls created some separation with a 9-0 run over the last two minutes to head into halftime up, 55-44.
Just as they have for the majority this season, the Gulls turned up the heat in the second half and dominated with perimeter shooting to capitalize on each possession to extend the lead to as much as 39 with 1:38 remaining in the game.
Endicott put on absolute clinic with superb ball movement to find the open man to place five student-athletes in double figures to go alongside 23 assists (tied for second-most this season) and matched their lowest turnover total of the year (seven).
Senior forward Chris Lipscomb (West Springfield, Mass.) played the role of unsung hero for Endicott as he tallied 19 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, including four of the offensive variety to give the Gulls a second chance when they needed it most.
With tonight's win, the Gulls' senior class (2013-2017) became the winningest class to ever come through the Endicott men's basketball program, surpassing the group from 2002-2006 (83-31) with an overall record of 84-33 and at least one more game to play as the Gulls will keep on dancing.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Tonight's matchup ensured that the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) will be sending a conference member to the NCAA Third Round for the first time since Anna Maria went during the 1995-96 season.
- Endicott is now 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament under the direction of head coach Kevin Bettencourt in his third year with the program.
- In addition, tonight's win set a new program record for most wins in a single season (24), as well as a new season-high 54.3 percent shooting in the game.
- The Gulls now have four games scoring at least 100 points this season.
- 111 points is also new season-high for Endicott, and falls one point shy of tying the program record for most points in a single game. (112 vs. Castleton on 03/05/14)
- Endicott made 19 three-pointers, for its 12th game this season with at least 10 treys and was just one shy of tying the program record (20) set earlier this season against Roger Williams (02/11/17).
- Motroni finished with 34 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
- Senior guard Kamahl Walker (Worcester, Mass.) chipped in 15 points to go with a game-high seven assists.
- Sophomore guard Vinny Clifford (Danvers, Mass.) hit four big three-pointers off the bench for a healthy 12 points.
- Endicott and Nichols met for the fourth time this season and 29th time in program history.
- The Gulls control the overall ledger, 18-11, and have won five of the past eight meetings, despite a 2-2 record this season.
- The Gulls and Bison split the regular-season series with a 93-80 win at home on Jan. 14, 2017, and a road loss (92-87) on Feb. 8, 2017.
- In their last meeting, in the CCC Tournament Championship last Saturday, Nichols was victorious, 67-64, but the Gulls were hungry for a shot at redemption on the biggest stage yet and did so tonight.
FOR THE FOES
- The Bison came into the game winners of the past 12 games in a row, but had that streak snapped tonight.
- Sophomore guard Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.) headlined three Bison in double digits with his 30 points (six splashes from beyond the arc), followed by 13 from freshman guard DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.).
- Freshman forward Jerome Cunningham (Westbury, N.Y.) registered a double-double with 11 points and a game-best 10 rebounds.
- The Bison earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth this season after winning their first CCC Championship last weekend.
- As two 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 sent 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.
NCAA Tournament First Round
Friday, March 3 (at Neumann University)
NCAA Tournament Second Round
Saturday, March 4 (at Neumann University)
Endicott def. Nichols, 111-75 | BOX
NCAA Tournament Third Round
Friday, March 10 (at Middlebury College)
Susquehanna vs. Williams, 5:30 p.m.
Endicott vs. Middlebury, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 11 (at Middlebury College)
Third Round winners, 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.