|Photo by Jamie Wilson, d3photography.com|
Benedictine still has a chance to become the first Division III men's basketball team to run the table since 1998, and St. Thomas will be the last one to get a chance at the Eagles as the two will play Saturday evening for the 2016 Division III men's basketball national championship.
St. Thomas defeated Christopher Newport 66-62, with senior Cullen Ogren scoring a career-high 10 points off the bench in the win. The Tommies scored the final 10 points of the first half to take a 33-25 lead into the locker room and extended the lead to 11 in the second.
CNU, which fell to 30-2, struggled from the foul line, making just three of 11 free throws, and was 5-for-19 from 3-point range. The Tommies (29-3) also held Marcus Carter to just 10 points, all of them in the second half.
In the first game, Amherst's Connor Green found a spark in the second half, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to help bring Amherst back from an eight-point deficit, but he missed a 3-pointer with six seconds left that could have given his team the lead and another at the buzzer that could have tied it.
Jayde Dawson completed a three-point play for Amherst to cut the Benedictine lead to one at 56-55. Lucas Johnson answered with one out of two free throws and, after a missed shot on the Amherst end, Tahron Harvey drove baseline for a layup to extend the lead back to four. Johnny McCarthy followed with a 3 and hit a layup one possession later to cut the lead back to one but Benedictine hit four of six free throws and survived Green's attempted heroics to win 63-60.
The Eagles (31-0) were led by Michael Blaszczyk's 15 points, while Tahron Harvey added 13 and Luke Johnson had 12 with 10 rebounds.