Amherst men’s basketball falls to Nichols in Division III Sweet 16

  • Garrett Day, left, of Amherst College, begins a drive to the basket beside Nate Tenaglia, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Eric Sellew, left, of Amherst College, reaches for a rebound against Josiah Kimball, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst College players Grant Robinson, from left, Josh Chery, CJ Bachmann and Garrett Day defend Nichols College players DeAnte Bruton, center, and Josiah Kimball during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Grant Robinson, right, of Amherst College, drives past DeAnte Bruton, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Grant Robinson, left, of Amherst College, shoots against Matt Morrow, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Joe Schneider, left, of Amherst College, shoots against Jerome Cunningham, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Devonn Allen, right, of Amherst College, shoots against Marcos Echevarria, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Grant Robinson, of Amherst College, drives to the basket against Nichols College during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Fru Che, right, of Amherst College, shoots against Matt Morrow, of Nichols College, during the NCAA Division III Sweet 16, Friday, March 8, 2019 at LeFrak Gym in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 3/8/2019 11:00:51 PM

AMHERST — Amherst College saw its bid to reach the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Elite 8 fall short Friday night.

Nichols caught fire late in the game and pulled away from Amherst, 62-58, at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Nichols will meet Swarthmore, which defeated Randolph-Macon, 58-57, in the first game. Those teams will vie for a spot in the Final Four at 6 p.m. Saturday.

It was a disappointing end to a great season by the Mammoths (25-5). It was their first game at home since Feb. 16 and coach Dave Hixon was proud of the run.

“We didn’t have one of our better shooting nights,” Hixson said. “I was hoping we’d be in the 70s and we know that we’re not going to win many games scoring only 58 points.”

The Mammoths were fine defensively, especially in the early going. They held sharpshooting Marcos Echevarria without a point for the first 10 minutes of the game.

But it’s hard to keep an elite shooter down and Echevarria finished with a game-high 22 points to eclipse the 2,500 mark in career scoring. He entered the game needing only 15 points to reach that coveted mark.

“He’s hard to guard,” Hixson said. “We didn’t have one of our better shooting nights.”

Amherst shot 39 percent for the game.

Even though they were home, the Mammoths faced a hostile crowd. Most of the 1,900 fans who packed the gym rooted for Nichols. But that hardly deterred the Mammoths, who went about their business in workmanlike fashion and nearly forced overtime in the waning seconds.

“We got worn down in the second half,” Hixon said. “We chased and chased.”

It was an exciting finish. Eric Sellew hit a pair of free throws with 33.8 seconds left to cut the lead to 59-58. But Echevarria’s free throw made it 60-58. Amherst missed three bids for the equalizer in the waning seconds.

Then Nichols sealed the game with a pair of free throws before time expired.

“All season we were underdogs and we proved people wrong by getting here,” Sellew said.

Amherst opened the second half with a 13-4 run capped by a Grant Robinson layup that provided the Mammoths with a 39-30 lead.

Four straight points by DeAnte Bruton, including a coast-to-coast layup, shaved the Mammoths’ lead to 39-34.

The teams kept trading 3s and Echevarria knocked down a 3 from long range to give Nichols a 49-47 lead with 7:02 left.

Two quick buckets by Nichols increased the lead to 54-47.

But Amherst cut the deficit to 54–50 with 3:17 remaining before Nichols responded with a trey and field goal by Kash Jackson to assume a 59-52 edge with 2:13 to play.

Sellew tipped in a shot to cut the margin to 59-54 with 1:44 left and Joe Schneider connected on a follow-up with 1:28 left as Amherst inched closer, 59-56.

A defensive-minded first half saw the teams tied at 26 apiece at intermission. Neither team could get its offense in gear.

Amherst missed a shot with nine seconds left. Nichols raced down the court and Echevarria hit a jumper at the buzzer to tie things at 26-26.

Garrett Day came off the bench for the Mammoths and scored nine first-half points.


Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy