Close encounters of the second kind

More news about: Amherst | Babson | Oswego State | Whitman

Brian Sortino was the hero again for Oswego State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Oswego State athletics file photo
Pat Coleman's Elmhurst career ended, along with those of eight other seniors, as Ryan Saarela, left, and St. Thomas eliminated them.
Photo by Ryan Coleman,
Benedictine was the second-to-last team to make its tournament debut this season and handled Hardin-Simmons with ease.
Photo by Matthew McClure, 

You know it was an exciting night in the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament when the largest margins of victories come in overtime games and the biggest upset comes in the final game of the night. 

Whitman provided the biggest upset of the second  round as Christian McDonald drove the lane for a layup with 2.6 seconds left to give the Missionaries an 88-86 win at Whitworth.

Kenny Love had tied the game a possession earlier with a 3-pointer. 

"Coach drew the play up for me to take the shot," McDonald said about taking the game-winner. "I wouldn't say it was nerves, I think it was just being more focused, making the right play and making the right read."

Tim Howell’s final basket of the game, which gave him 32 points, staked the Missionaries to an 86-83 lead with 30 seconds to play and Whitman needed to make only one more stop.  But Love nearly rescued Whitworth a final time, hitting a long three over Butler to tie the game with 13 seconds to play.

Unable to get Howell back on the floor as an offensive substitute, Whitman turned to McDonald.  He took a pass near the top of the arc and drove to the left side of the key where he pulled up over the Whitworth defense and hit the game winning shot.

Whitman will be playing St. Thomas at Augustana. Benedictine, Oswego State and Tufts are the other hosts for the sectional round of the tournament.

No. 15 Amherst nipped Cortland 69-68 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. The Red Dragons had the ball and a one-point lead with 14 seconds left, but could only manage an off-balance runner that bounced off the glass. Amherst grabbed the rebound and streaked up the court on a three-on-one fast break. Amherst's initial shot was no good, but Johnny McCarthy grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on the put-back attempt. He made both free throws to give Amherst the victory.

The teams attempted 66 3-pointers and only 17 free throws combined. Connor Green finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Amherst (24-5).

Brian Sortino capped a tremendous weekend in Marietta, Ohio as Oswego State tipped Gwynedd Mercy 78-77. After scoring a career-high 39 points in the Lakers' first round win on Friday night, Sortino hit the game-winning jump shot with seven seconds left. Like Friday night, Oswego State's opponent rallied to a lead in the final minute when Julien Hyden's free throws briefly put Gwynedd Mercy in front, and the Griffins had a buzzer-beater attempt rim out. But Sortino had the answer and the Lakers advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in program history.

Wooster overcame a 12-point deficit with six minutes left against Endicott, forcing overtime where they eventually prevailed 91-83. "We've had some outstanding comebacks over the years," mused Wooster coach Steve Moore after the game. "All our fans will remember the semifinal in 2011 we were down against Williams and came back and won. This ranks right up there with it.  Things were not going well for us all evening.  The guys hung in there tough."

Freshman Reece Dupler logged 43 minutes and posted 18 points with Dan Fannelly battling foul trouble and double teams. "My first experience coming in as a freshman I didn't know what to expect. I was just hoping to do anything I could to help the team win."

No. 25 Emory is headed back to the Sweet 16 after beating Birmingham-Southern 84-78 in overtime. Emory's Davis Rao scored 23 points including four free throws in the final two seconds of the game. After Rao made one free throw to put the Eagles (20-7) in front by three, the Panthers committed a technical foul, giving Rao the chance to put the game away.

No. 13 Alma defeated No. 5 John Carroll 90-83 thanks to a big night from "other" Beckman brother. While Jostens Trophy finalist DJ Beckman scored 10 points, his brother Jason poured in 23 points in 33 minutes. Antonio Vuyancih scored 21 points off the bench for John Carroll.

One New England Cinderella ended the season of another in New Jersey where Keene State topped Middlebury 74-72. Keene State had a chance to put the game away from the free throw line, leading 74-72 with 20 seconds left. The Owls missed both free throws and Middlebury grabbed the offensive rebound. After a timeout, the Panthers had two chances to tie the game but missed the first and had the second blocked by Keene State seven-footer Nate Howard. Keene State (20-10), which was the third seed in the Little East tournament, got 14 points from three different players, including Howard and reserve Jaquel Edwards.

Despite All-American Joey Flannery missing the game with an injury, No. 19 Babson held off No. 16 Susquehanna 70-67 to punch its return ticket to the Sweet 16. Isaiah Nelson picked up the offensive slack for the Beavers (22-5) with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Babson pieced together enough offense despite shooting 5-for-22 from three and 5-for-9 from the free throw line.

Ryan Saarela scored a team-high 24 points and St. Thomas survived an onslaught from Elmhurst senior guard Kyle Wuest, who scored 33 of the Bluejays' first 64 points before reinjuring his ankle. The Tommies went on to win, 94-81.

St. Norbert advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 32 years after holding off St. Olaf 63-61. St. Olaf, the MIAC tournament champions, cut its deficit to one point on six different occasions in the final 8 minutes 53 seconds, but could not wrest the lead from the Green Knights. St. Norbert, which tied a school record for wins in a season, last advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1984, when the Division III tournament was 32 teams.

No. 10 Ohio Wesleyan eliminated Lynchburg 97-94 as four of the Battling Bishops starters scored at least 20 points. The Hornets had the ball and a chance to tie with less than 20 seconds left but Seth Clark stole the ball back for Ohio Wesleyan and was fouled. He made one of two free throws and the Hornets missed their final three-pointer. Clark finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Ben Simpson notched 22 points and 16 rebounds.

Marcus Carter scored eight consecutive points late and No. 4 Christopher Newport knocked off New York University 67-64. Carter scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots for the Captains (28-1) who have won 19 straight. The Violets (21-6) outscored Christopher Newport 46-28 in the paint but were 0-for-6 from three.

The last perfect team standing stayed that way as No. 2 Benedictine ousted Hardin-Simmons 85-64. Michael Blaszczyk scored 29 points for the Eagles. No. 12 Johnson and Wales defeated Fitchburg State 86-74 behind a 55-point, 27-rebound outburst from Quarry Greenaway (30 points, 17 rebounds) and Tom Garrick (25 points, 10 rebounds).

Tufts rallied past Skidmore 88-80 to give the NESCAC a second representative in the Sweet 16. The Jumbos who last made the NCAA Tournament in 2006 ensured this run will last as least as long. That team lost to Amherst in the Sweet 16 in overtime.