2007 Division III men's basketball tournament

Amherst finished its title run by knocking off the defending national champ.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, D3sports.com

Amherst made the most of its third trip in the last four years to Salem, Va., as the Lord Jeffs defeated Virginia Wesleyan 80-67 to claim the school’s first NCAA Division III men’s basketball title.  

Amherst finishes the season with a 30-2 record while Virginia Wesleyan, the 2006 national champion, ends its campaign with a 28-5 mark. 

“It’s wonderful to be national champs,” explained Amherst coach Dave Hixon, the D3hoops.com Coach of the Year.  “It’s a big deal to be here twice.  We have played in the consolation game.  I have seen film clips and they don’t say Amherst has been there two years ... they just say we haven’t won a game.  Now, we have won two games.  It is a big deal to get that banner.”

Andrew Olson, named the championship series Most Outstanding Player, led five Jeffs in double figures with 15 points to go with five assists. Olson was also named to the D3hoops.com All-America First Team. Brian Baskauskas added 14 points and six boards while Dan Wheeler put up 13 points and seven rebounds.  Tim McLaughlin and Kevin Hopkins each added 12 points and five rebounds to Amherst’s effort.

Ton Ton Balenga shook off a rough semifinal victory to lead Virginia Wesleyan with 19 points including 7-of-7 from the line. Brandon Adair, named to the all-championship series team and the D3hoops.com All-America second team, was the only other Marlin in double figures with 17 points to go with five boards in a full 40 minutes of play.

Amherst duplicated its effort from the night before by jumping on top of the Marlins early in the first half.  Wheeler’s three-pointer with 14:58 on the clock gave the Jeffs an eight-point lead at 12-4.

“We have been notorious for starting slowly, so this week has been a surprise to the fans,” said Olson.  “Those quick starts have been a big boost of confidence.”

Virginia Wesleyan did its best to minimize the momentum, quickly pulling to within one at 12-11 following a jumper by Adair with 13:10 on the scoreboard.  Amherst responded just as swiftly, pushing back out to an eight-point edge after a pair of free throws by Hopkins at 19-11. 

The Jeffs’ enjoyed their first double-digit lead at the 6:27 mark following two free tosses by Olson.  The margin hovered around the 10-point for the next several minutes until Olson canned his second trey of the game to give Amherst a 13 point advantage at 35-22 with 1:58 to go in the half.  Baskauskas capped the stanza’s scoring with a jumper to send the teams into the locker rooms with the Jeffs ahead 39-28.

Neither squad could gain the upper hand at the outset of the second half.  The scoring difference again maintained in the area of 10 points until Wheeler hit a jumper at the 14:51 mark that started the Jeffs on a 10-2 run that saw Amherst’s lead increase to 59-40 with 10:52 to play.

Amherst enjoyed a 20-point lead on three separate occasions, with the latter coming at the 7:28 mark, but the Marlins showed their championship resolve over the next few minutes.  Terrell Dixon hit a three and Stephen Fields made the back-end of two free throws to pull VWC within 16 at 68-52, and Balenga followed with five more charity tosses to bring the Marlins within striking distance at 68-57 with 4:16 to play.

Dixon followed a 1-of-2 effort from the line by the Jeffs’ Brandon Jones with a pair of his own free throw makes to pull the Marlins’ within 10 at the 3:20 mark, but Amherst regrouped with a jumper by Baskauskas and two from the line by Jones to go up 73-59 with 2:21 to play.

The Marlins pulled within 10 two more times down the stretch, but couldn’t get any closer as the Jeffs hit 5-of-6 foul shots within the final minute of play to secure their first national title.

“All I can say is that Amherst played great,” explain Virginia Wesleyan head coach Dave Macedo.  “They deserved it.”

Amherst 80, Virginia Wesleyan 67
at Salem, Va.

All-Tournament Team
Andrew Olson, Amherst (Most Outstanding Player)
Tim McLaughlin, Amherst
Brandon Adair, Virginia Wesleyan
Sean Wallis, Washington U.
Tim Vandervaart, Wooster

Third-Place Game
Washington U. 92, Wooster 84

National Semifinals
Amherst 67, Wooster 60
Virginia Wesleyan 67, Washington U. 65

Sectional championships
Amherst 81, Rhode Island College 69
Wooster 94, Brockport State 87 OT
Virginia Wesleyan 81, Guilford 71
Washington U. 58, Hope 55

First Round
March 1-2
Second Round
March 3
Sectionals at Amherst
March 9-10

at Rhode Island College 64
Coast Guard 60

at Rhode Island College 70
Brandeis 67
Rhode Island College 75
Keene State 73
Brandeis 77
Trinity (Conn.) 70 OT
at Keene State 81
Rivier 47
Keene State 76
at Salem State 75

Widener 76
at King's 63

at Amherst 87
Widener 70
Amherst 97
Stevens 74
at Ramapo 77
York (N.Y.) 68
at Ramapo 61
Stevens 69 
WPI 57
Stevens 68 
First Round Second Round Sectionals at St. John Fisher
at John Carroll 87
Westminster (Pa.) 83
John Carroll 79
at Lake Erie 77
Wooster 83
John Carroll 73
at Wooster 92
Transylvania 66
at Wooster 73
Centre 56
Centre 69
Capital 59
Brockport State 74
Williams 66
Brockport State 74
at St. Lawrence 49
Brockport State 105
St. John Fisher 91
at St. Lawrence 85
Elms 79
at St. John Fisher 98
Wentworth 72
at St. John Fisher 95
Plattsburgh State 87
Plattsburgh State 61
Rochester 60
First Round Second Round Sectionals at UW-Stevens Point
at St. John's 85 OT
Loras 82
at UW-Stevens Point 93
St. John's 76
Washington U. 78
at UW-Stevens Point 66
at Washington U. 77
Fontbonne 58
at Washington U. 63
Whitworth 61
Whitworth 62 OT
DePauw 59
Carroll 73
at Augustana 69
Carroll 86
at St. Thomas 80
Hope 89
Carroll 77
Calvin 69
at Aurora 68
Hope 80
Calvin 64
Hope 76
Chicago 54
First Round Second Round Sectionals at Virginia Wesleyan
at Virginia Wesleyan 63
Averett 60
at Virginia Wesleyan 61
Hampden-Sydney 51
Virginia Wesleyan 81
Mississippi College 55
Hampden-Sydney 68
Hood 65
at Mississippi College 68
Occidental 51
at Mississippi College 76
Maryville (Tenn.) 56
Maryville (Tenn.) 73
Mary Hardin-Baylor 62
Guilford 101
Manhattanville 81
Guilford 80
at Johns Hopkins 73
Guilford 129
Lincoln 128 (3 OT)
at Johns Hopkins 84
Villa Julie 72
Lincoln 91
Alvernia 76
Lincoln 81
at Catholic 70
at Catholic 58
Messiah 37