MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Endicott's NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship journey ended Friday night with a loss to No. 6 Middlebury, 89-60, in the Sweet 16 of this year's tournament.
Endicott, making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, gained entry into the DIII Championship as an at-large selection after losing to Nichols in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship game on Feb. 25. The Gulls were the first CCC team since 2005-06 to earn an at-large bid.
In the opening round, Endicott defeated No. 16 Salisbury, 71-68, to set up a Second Round rematch with CCC rival Nichols. The Gulls got revenge on the Bison with a 111-75 victory and became the first CCC team since 1995-96 to reach the Third Round of the national championship.
With Friday's victory, Middlebury will move on to the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals to face NESCAC rival Williams, which defeated No. 17 Susquehanna, 78-61, in the early game.
Winners of the four sectional games will advance to the semi-finals and finals March 17 and 18 at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.
Middlebury 89, Endicott 60
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — The Endicott men's basketball team saw its NCAA DIII Tournament run come to an end in the Sweet 16 Friday night against host No. 6 Middlebury College, 89-60, inside a sold-out Pepin Gymnasium.
In their second meeting of the season, it was a different result this time around with high stakes on the home court where the Panthers are 25-1 over the past two seasons, with the lone loss coming at the hands of Endicott earlier this year.
A slow start for both teams gave way to a 9-2 run for Middlebury with 11:57 to play in the opening stanza and extended that advantage to a 21-8 margin with 9:37 to go in front of a rambunctious crowd feeding off the Panthers' energy to set the tone the rest of the way.
The Gulls struggled to get shots to fall, as Endicott connected on just 10 of 38 attempts (4-of-23 from three-point land) in the first half. Meanwhile, the Panthers doubled up on Endicott and took a 48-24 lead into the locker room at the break.
A 22-5 run for the Panthers to begin the second stanza made it a 70-29 game with 11:53 remaining in regulation and they led by as much 42 with 11:42 left to go on win their 14th straight game and advance to the Elite Eight.
Just as they have all season and throughout their four years wearing the Blue & Green, seniors Kamahl Walker (Worcester, Mass.), Daquan Sampson (Germantown, Md.), Drew Sawyer (Norwalk, Conn.), Stephen Basden (Lynn, Mass.), Chris Lipscomb (West Springfield, Mass.), and Max Motroni (West Warwick, R.I.) fought hard to the end to cement their legacy going down in program history as the team to make the deepest run thus far.
Before exiting the court for the last time in their respective careers to a standing ovation from Gull Nation with just under two minutes remaining, Endicott rallied to make it a respectable five-point deficit in scoring totals in the second half (41-36).
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Endicott and Middlebury met for the second time this season, as the Gulls earned a 93-89 road victory at Middlebury on Nov. 27, 2016.
- Endicott is 2-3 against Middlebury in the all-time series, despite winning the two most recent meetings before tonight.
- The Gulls and Panthers were of six New England region teams to advance to the Sweet 16 alongside Williams, Keene St., Tufts, and Babson.
- Tonight's matchup featured a Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) member in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 21 years, since the 1995-96 season sent Anna Maria.
- Endicott is now 3-3 in the NCAA Tournament under the direction of head coach Kevin Bettencourt in his third year with the program.
- The Gulls scored just 24 points in the first half for the third time this season (at Babson, at Wentworth, at Middlebury.)
- Endicott shot a season-low 22 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-41) and attempted just two free throws (1-of-2) on the night.
- Freshman guard Keith Brown (Pelham, Mass.) led the Gulls with 12 points off the bench, while Sampson chipped in 11.
- Sophomore forward Nick Thibeault (Gorham, Maine) grabbed a team-high/career-high eight rebounds.
FOR THE FOES
- Middlebury is ranked No. 6 in the country according to the latest D3hoops.com February 26 poll.
- The sixth-ranked Panthers made an appearance in the Sweet 16 for the first time in four years.
- Middlebury is now 13-7 in NCAA tournament action in program history.
- The Panthers are 16-1 at home this year.
- Middlebury grabbed 35 rebounds to Endicott's 16 in the first half, (56-39 overall) and had 22 second chance points to the Gulls' eight in the game.
- Senior guard Jake Brown (Hawley, Pa.) led the floor with 15 points in the first half as he finished with 19 points and a game-high eight assists.
- Junior forward Nick Tarantino (Dedham, Mass.) registered a double-double with 11 points and a game-best 11 rebounds.
- Senior guard Matt St. Amour (Swanton, Vt.) scored a game-high 21 points.
- Sophomore forward Eric McCord (Westford, Mass.) recorded the first basket of the game and finished with six points and 10 boards.
- Junior guard Jack Daly (Eastchester, N.Y.) rounded out the Panthers in double figures with 11 points and nine rebounds.
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)
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.