|The Williams Ephs are all smiles after clinching their eighth trip to the national semifinals.
Williams athletics file photo
The final four teams in the 2017 NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament include two unranked but frequent visitors to Salem, the current No. 1 and the team ranked No. 1 for much of the season.
Williams won its rubber match with NESCAC foe Middlebury and secured its seventh trip to the NCAA tournament semifinals with a 77-75 win in Vermont. Williams trailed for much of the first half until Matthew Karpowicz and Mike Greenman hit jumpshots to pull the Ephs in front 39-37 at the break. After the Panthers reclaimed the lead, Greenman hit a three-pointer to key an 11-2 run that put Williams back in front 57-51. Middlebury had the ball down two with 21 seconds to play, but missed a would-be game tying jump shot and layup. Marcos Soto grabbed the defensive rebound and made two free throws to put the game away.
Daniel Aronowitz paced Williams (23-8) with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Jack Daly scored 23 points for Middlebury (27-4).
Williams will meet Augustana in the national semifinals after the Vikings dispatched Hanover, 77-64. Augustana used its size and depth to wear down Hanover, which used six players for most of the game. Augustana center Jacob Johnston scored 19 points and freshman Micah Martin scored 12 points and grabbed seven boards for Augustana (23-8). Hanover senior Corey Muchmore scored 20 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including a 9-for-9 start to the game, but the Panthers shot 52 percent from the foul line (15-for-29).
Augustana will make its sixth national semifinal appearance and its second in three season.
No. 1 Whitman kept its perfect season going by fending off Rochester 91-87, giving the NWC its first national semifinal representative. The Blues and Yellowjackets were nip-and-tuck the whole game, battling to an 85-all tie with 2:07 to play. Joey Hewitt made two free throws with 84 seconds left to give Whitman an 87-85 lead and then added two more to expand the Blues' advantage to two possessions. After Rochester's Sam Borst-Smith cut the deficit in half with a layup, Whitman added two more free throws to seal its 31st victory.
Jack Stewart scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Austin Butler tallied a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) for the Blues. Zack Ayers poured in 27 points and grabbed 15 boards for Rochester.
Babson overwhelmed Keene State in the second half and cruised to a 102-79 victory. Joey Flannery scored 29 points for the Beavers who shot 61 percent (39-for-63) and had all five starters reach double-figures. Charlie Rice tallied 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Matt Ozzella notched a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) for the Owls.
Babson (28-2) heads to its second national semifinal and will play Whitman in the first game on Friday.