UST knocks off Augie; CNU, Benedictine make first trip


First-time Final Four participants Benedictine.
Photo by Paul Beroza for d3photography.com

St. Thomas knocked off No. 1 Augustana to earn its fifth Final Four bid, while unbeaten Benedictine will continue its run all the way to Salem.

Grant Shaeffer scored a game-high 24 points, including 9-for-11 free-throw shooting, as the Tommies improved to 28-3 with the 86-76 win at Augustana. The Tommies won at Augustana in the 2011 Elite Eight as well, on their way to the national title.

It's the first time in the history of the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll that St. Thomas has beaten the top-ranked team.

Michael Blaszczyk was lights-out from 3-point range and so was the rest of his team as Benedictine shot 17-for-24 from beyond the arc en route to a 93-73 win vs. Alma. Blaszczyk scored a team-high 20 points, including 6-for-7 from 3-point range as Benedictine became the first team to enter the Final Four undefeated since Connecticut College did so in 1999. Jason Beckman came off the bench to score a game-high 23 for Alma, but the Scots' first-ever NCAA Tournament run ended one game short of Salem. Benedictine is the first NACC member to reach the Division III men's basketball Final Four.

Christopher Newport is headed to the Final Four for the first time in program history as well after beating Wooster in upstate New York, 81-61.

The Captains used a 21-4 run midway through the first half to grab a 36-19 halftime lead. The Scots fought back within two possessions when Alex Baptiste's jumper pulled Wooster within six with seven minutes to play. But Christopher Newport responded with a 9-1 run and maintained its double-digit through the final horn. 

Marcus Carter continued his strong tournament play, this time pacing the Captains (30-1) with 22 points. Tim Daly added 20 points and 11 rebounds for Christopher Newport, which has won 21 games in a row. Spencer Williams was the lone player to score double figures for the Scots (24-8) as he scored 19.

Christopher Newport is the first team from the CAC to reach the Final Four since York (Pa.) did so in 2005.

Amherst pulled away from Tufts late and secured its fifth trip to the national semifinals, 86-73. Amherst and the Jumbos battled back-and-forth and were tied at 73 with four minutes remainting after Tufts' big man Tom Palleschi drilled a three-pointer. David George hit a free throw to put Dave Hixon's squad up one and then Connor Green converted a three-point play on Amherst's next possession. After two more layups for Amherst, Johnny McCarthy wrapped up the game-ending onslaught with a turnaround, fadeaway three from the right wing.

Five players scored double figures for Amherst (25-5), led by Green with 25. Palleschi and Stephen Haladyna each scored 20 points for Tufts (23-6).