Three hosts knocked off; Whitman eliminated

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Guilford's run continues as Kyler Gregory scored a game-high 25 points for the Quakers. photo

Williams sent Whitman packing, Nichols knocked off Amherst, Guilford knocked out St. Thomas and Swarthmore survived in the final minutes against Randolph-Macon in Friday's Division III basketball Sweet 16.

Randolph-Macon couldn't get either of its two shots to fall in the closing seconds and Swarthmore survived to defeat the Yellow Jackets 58-57 in the round of 16 at Amherst. Darryl Williams had a career-high 23 points and added 10 rebounds for Randolph-Macon, but the Garnet (27-3) rallied from an eight-point deficit for the win.

With the game tied at 47 early in the second half, Randolph-Macon (27-4) rattled off seven of the next nine points to take a take a 54-49 lead. Corey Bays buried a trey with 25 seconds left to put R-MC on top 57-55, but Conor Harkins answers with a 3-pointer from the left corner with seven seconds left to give Swarthmore a 58-57 lead. Buzz Anthony missed a 3 with two seconds left and Darryl Williams couldn't finish with the putback at the horn.

Only 46 percent of schools which host the sectionals have advanced over the past 19 seasons, and the trend continued on Friday night as two hosts were knocked out in the early games. Both of them were the NESCAC schools, as Amherst and Hamilton both went down. Augustana was on the ropes as the host as well and lost 93-79 in the final game of the night. Aston Francis scored a game-high 33 points and Anajuwon Spencer added 18 as Wheaton knocked off Augustana to advance to the Elite 8.

Swarthmore will play Nichols, guaranteeing that we'll have a new participant in the Final Four. Marcos Echeverria passed the 2,500 career point mark and hit a big 3-pointer after getting knocked out of the game with an injury in the closing minutes to help lift the Bison past Amherst 62-58. Echeverria scored 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting, and had five of Nichols' six 3-pointers. Eric Sellew had 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Mammoths, whose season ends at 25-5. Nichols improved to 28-2.

After Echevarria made one of two at the line at the other end, Amherst had two chances to tie or win the game. Sophomore Grant Robinson missed a three for the Mammoths, then Schneider missed a layup and the loose ball went to the home team on the possession arrow. With five seconds left, Day missed a three from the right side, the Bison secured the rebound, and Echevarria made a pair from the line with one second remaining.

Aston Francis led Wheaton with 33 points and seven rebounds as the Thunder made the third matchup count against conference rival Augustana, defeating the Vikings 93-79. Anajuwon Spencer scored 18 points with four rebound and Luke Anthony added 14 points with with six rebounds. The teams were tied at 57 apiece before Spencer hit a 3-pointer to give Wheaton (22-8) the lead with 8:02 left. Luke Peters followed with a layup on the next possession, after two Augie missed free throws. Spencer added another 3-pointer, Francis converted a three-point play, then two 3-pointers as Wheaton pulled away down the stretch. Nolan Ebel had 23 points to lead Augustana (26-4).

Jason Ellis and Anthony Wallace each scored 13 points off the bench and Kyle Dixon and Lukas Isaly added 10 apiece as Marietta cruised past Oswego State at Augustana 78-61 to advance to the Elite Eight. The Pioneers broke open a close game by shooting 58 percent from the floor in the second half and making five of 11 3-ponters. Marietta will face Wheaton on Saturday, guaranteeing that two new faces will be in the national semifinals  

"We're enjoying chilling with each other," Wallace said after the game. "The four seniors are not going to be able to get these days back, those hours back or those minutes back. So we're just trying to soak everything in because we'll never get this chance again."

Wallace, who scored nine points during a second half surge that saw the Pioneers outscore the Lakers 41-26, understands that getting to this point in the tournament is not easy.

"We're here now, but just because we're Marietta doesn't mean we'll make it back," he said. "It takes a lot of hard work."

Marcus Carter and Jason Aigner scored 18 points apiece and Cutch Ellis added 12 points and a game-high 17 rebounds as Christopher Newport eliminated host school Hamilton, 75-67. The Captains outrebounded the Continentals 25-15 in the second half and went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc to rally from a 12-point halftime deficit. 

Christopher Newport will play Williams for the right to reach the first Fort Wayne Final Four. The Whitman senior class record win total ends at 112, as the No. 2-ranked Blues fell to Williams 84-81 at Hamilton. Williams prepared well for the vaunted Whitman press, taking and keeping a lead through most of the first half. Williams led by as many as 14 midway through the second half, and led by 12 with 5:10 left, but Whitman was able to get within one on a 3-pointer by Trevor Osborne with 49 seconds left. The Blues were unable to get over the top, however, as they turned the ball over, then missed a 3 on a subsequent possession. Kyle Scadlock led a balanced Ephs attack with 15 points. Austin Butler paced Whitman with 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, and seven steals. 

Kyler Gregory scored a team-high 25 points and Guilford held St. Thomas freshman point guard Anders Nelson to 13 points, including 1-for-7 from downtown as the Quakers booked their return trip to the Elite 8 with an 80-73 win. Michael Hannon had 28 points for the Tommies (24-5), including 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range, but Guilford parlayed a huge rebounding edge into 13 second-chance points in the win. Guilford will play the only host to advance, as UW-Oshkosh used a decisive size advantage to maintain a healthy lead over Loras throughout their 86-75 victory in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Duhawks committed just seven turnovers, but shot 3-22 from beyond the three-point arc and could never catch the Titans. Ryan DiCanio led Loras with 25, while Connor Duax had 26 for UW-Oshkosh.