Saturday men: Feels like the first time

Swarthmore celebrates the first Centennial Conference title and first NCAA tournament berth in program history.
Swarthmore athletics photo

This year will be the first trip to the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament for Swarthmore and Nichols and the 26th for Wooster. For those teams and all the others who clinched bids to the dig dance, Saturday was a time to celebrate.  

After losing in the CCC tournament as the top seed the past four seasons, Nichols broke through for its first NCAA tournament appearance today by beating Endicott. 67-64. Endicott led 64-59 with 1:22 left when the Bison started its game-winning rally. Marcos Echevarria hit back-to-back threes to put Nichols in front by one. After Endicott failed to get the ball inbounds, he went to the free throw line and added two more points. Endicott missed a potential game-tying three, setting off Nichols' celebration.

In a season of firsts for Swarthmore, the Garnet rallied to beat Dickinson 68-64 for its first Centennial Conference crown. Dickinson led 58-51 with a little under 10 minutes to play when Elijah Wright drove to the rim for the Red Devils, looking to expand the lead. Swarthmore's Nate Shafer swooped in to block the shot, which triggered a Garnet fast break ending in Jim Lammers' three-pointer. The play triggered a 16-4 run for Swarthmore and a nine-minute field goal drought for Dickinson. Sophomore guard Cam Wiley scored 28 points including the go-ahead three pointer for Swarthmore.

Carlos Gonzalez put on a show for Eastern Connecticut and the Warriors edged Keene State 72-70 in the Little East Conference tournament final. After Ty Nichols made a layup to put Keene State in front by six with four minutes to play, Gonzalez took over the game. He scored seven points down the stretch, including the game-winning bucket with nine seconds remaining. Gonzalez finished with 30 points for Eastern Connecticut, which secured its seventh trip to the NCAA tournament.

The closest game of the day was played late into the night in Roseville, Minnesota where Northwestern (Minn.) outlasted St. Scholastica 112-108 in quadruple overtime. Down by three and missing two players who had already fouled out, St. Scholastica hit an off-balance desperation three at the buzzer to force a fourth overtime. Northwestern (Minn.) scored the first four points of the fourth extra period and held on to win. The Eagles' starters scored 109 of the team's 112 points. Collin Anderson scored 36 points for the Saints.

Whitman and Whitworth also needed overtime to settle the third battle of the Whits as the Blues rallied past the Pirates, 86-83. Kenny Love hit a three-pointer late in regulation to give the Pirates a two-point lead but Whitman got even on two clutch free throws from JoJo Wiggins. Whitman went ahead for good when Austin Butler tipped home a missed three from teammate Jack Stewart in overtime. Whitman (27-0) remains the only undefeated team in Division III men's basketball.

After beating Salisbury by one in last year's CAC tournament final, Christopher Newport did it to the Sea Gulls again this year. Tim Daly's jumper with two seconds left capped an 11-1 Christopher Newport run and lifted the Captains over Salisbury, 63-62. "I'm still in shock," said CNU coach John Krikorian after the game. "These guys just don't stop. They find a way. It looked like we were dead, and then we just found a way." Salisbury (20-7) lost three of its last four games and sits on the bubble for an at-large bid. Recap

Michael Welch scored nine of his 15 points in the final five minutes and Calvin upset arch rival Hope for the second time in eight days, this time by a score of 86-83. Dante Hawkins scored 31 points in a full 40 minutes for Flying Dutchmen who await their fate in the pool of teams hoping for an at-large bid. The Knights (17-10) will make their 21st trip to the NCAA tournament.

Farmingdale State topped Sage 77-75 in a wild finish to the Skyline Conference title game. Trailing by four with five seconds left, Sage's Jordan Devaughn hit a three-point play and was fouled by Farmingdale State. He calmly sank the free throw to complete the four-point play and tie the game at 75 with five seconds left. George Riefenstahl responded by getting to the rim for two points with one second left and Farmingdale State blocked Sage's final shot to seal the dramatic victory.

In the MIAC tournament championship game, David Stokman converted a three-point play with 21 seconds left to put St. John's front of Bethel, 75-74. Trevor Hall answered with a layup to put the Royals back in front by one. After a Johnnies' turnover, Bridgeport Tussler hit a string of free throws to seal Bethel's victory, 79-75. Stokman finished with 33 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 night from the free throw line, for St. John's. Tusler tallied 26 points for the Royals who will make their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1991. Box score

Clay Seifert's jump shot put UW-River Falls ahead of UW-Oshkosh 58-56 with 2:35 remaining in the WIAC tournament final. Oshkosh got within one when Max Schebel split a pair of free throws on the Titans' next possession, but that was all the scoring for either team the rest of the way. The teams combined to make one field goal in the final four minutes of the Falcons' 60-58 victory. Box score

North Central (Ill.) became the first team to win the CCIW tournament from the fourth seed as the Cardinals topped Augustana, 69-64. North Central went 2-0 against Carthage and Augustana this weekend after going 0-4 against those teams in the regular season. Augustana joins Hope, UW-Whitewater, St. Thomas and Amherst on the list of Division III heavyweights waiting for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Scroll down for more of our recap 

Moore gets No. 800 in style

Wooster celebrates its 16th NCAC tournament victory after holding off Ohio Wesleyan 76-72.
Wooster athletics photo 

What a way to get your 800th win. Wooster head coach Steve Moore hit that milestone when Dan Fanelly sank two free throws with less than 10 seconds to play, sealing the Fighting Scots' 76-72 victory over Ohio Wesleyan in the NCAC tournament final. Ohio Wesleyan nearly erased a 21-point deficit and got as close as 74-72 before Fanelly's final free throws put the game away. He finished with 34 points for the Scots who will make their 26th NCAA tournament appearance. Recap

Ripon All-American Ty Sabin will get a chance to play on Division III basketball's biggest stage as the Redhawks defeated Lake Forest 81-72 in the MWC title game. Less than 24 hours after Sabin scored 51 points against Cornell, he dropped 31 more on the Foresters. 

Wartburg finished its run through the IIAC tournament as the sixth seed by beating fifth-seeded Central, 89-85. LaGrange won the USA South Athletic Conference's automatic bid as the five seed when the Panthers beat Methodist 75-56 in the tournament title game. Thomas More ended St. Vincent's reign atop the Presidents' Athletic Conference by beating the Bearcats, 79-68.

Several top seeds won their conference tournaments, leaving at-large bids for other teams. Scranton downed Moravian 68-63 as John Viktus rolled up 27 points for the Royals in the Landmark Conference title game. St. John Fisher beat Stevens 80-69 to win the Empire 8 and stay out of the at-large pool while Oswego State did the same with a 75-70 victory over SUNY Oneonta in the SUNYAC finale.

In a battle between the bottom two seeds in the Liberty League tournament, Union defeated Hobart 71-67. Hobart took the lead 67-66 on Colin Dougherty's three-point play with 39 seconds left. Deshon Burgess answered immediately for Union with a three-pointer to put the Dutchmen back in front. After Hobart missed a layup on its next possession, Burgess was fouled and added two free throws to put the game out of reach. Burgess finished with 33 points, including a 12-for-13 appearance from the foul line. Recap

The MAC Freedom tournament final was also a nailbiter between the third and fourth seed. DeSales trailed Misericordia 74-69 with less than a minute to play before back-to-back layups trimmed the Cougars' lead to one with 18 seconds left. DeSales fouled Misericordia's Jason Kenny who made two free throws with five seconds left, pushing the lead back to three. Misericordia elected to foul DeSales Brandon Bridy immediately and he converted two free throws to cut the deficit back to one. The Bulldogs fouled Kenny again who made two more free throws. DeSales couldn't get a final shot off and the Cougars celebrated the 78-75 victory.

Most other early finals were lopsided wins by top seeds. No. 15 Neumann overpowered Gwynedd Mercy 77-53 in the CSAC title game. Darian Barnes posted a triple-double for the Knights with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks. Neumann will make its second trip to the NCAA tournament in three seasons.

After winning in the MASCAC semifinal on a buzzer beater, Salem State didn't need any late-game heroics in the tournament championship. The Vikings pulled away from five-seed Worcester State 100-82 for their 17th MASCAC title. Shaquan Murray scored a career-high 31 points for Salem State.

Raheem Anderson rolled up 33 points and eight assists as Husson cruised past Thomas 89-67 in the NAC championship game. The Eagles will make their sixth NCAA tournament appearance. Albertus Magnus beat Lasell 101-83 in the GNAC final as Grant Ellis, Shaquille Mitchell and Jaqhawn Walters combined for 82 points for the Falcons. Kareem Davis hit six 3-pointers as part of a 31-point effort for Becker and the Hawks held off Southern Vermont 79-70 in the NECC final.