AMHERST, Mass.—After trailing the No. 5 Randolph-Macon College Yellow Jackets for nearly the entirety of Friday night's NCAA Sweet 16 contest, No. 6 Swarthmore College Men's Basketball played a gritty second half and came back to win 58-57. Swarthmore took the lead for good on a corner 3-pointer by sharpshooting sophomore Conor Harkins with just seven seconds left. The Garnet then contained the Yellow Jackets for the final seconds of the game to claim the victory.
The Garnet (27-3) survived, locking down the Yellow Jackets (27-4) in the second half and holding them to just 16 points in the second frame on 7-of-31 shooting (22.6 percent). Swarthmore now moves on to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight and will take on No. 14 Nichols College.
Swarthmore led 7-4 with 17:43 to play in the first half, but from that point on didn't regain the lead until 1:47 remained in the second half.
Junior forward Zac O'Dell carried the Garnet offensively, dropping in a team-high 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He earned another double-double, his ninth this year, collecting 11 rebounds. He also blocked three shots on the defensive end in the second half. O'Dell was the only Garnet player to score in double figures and scored 15 of his points in the second half.
Harkins, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer, finished with nine points of 3-of-8 shooting from deep. Cam Wiley and George Visconti each added eight points, and Nate Shafer and Ryan Ingram both pitched in six points. Shafer ripped down 10 rebounds and blocked two shots.
Swarthmore scored 34 of its points inside the paint. The Garnet also won the battle on the glass, grabbing 40 rebounds to Randolph-Macon's 37.
Randolph-Macon was led in scoring by forward Darryl Williams who tallied 23 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 5-of-9 from 3-point land. Williams scored 16 of his points in the first half. He landed in foul trouble in the second half but still played 14 minutes, scoring seven points in that span.
Swarthmore appeared to be in a dire situation midway through the first half. A 3-pointer by RMC's Williams with 10:15 left put the Yellow Jackets ahead by 10, 22-12. Swarthmore's deficit reached 16 with 8:08 to go in the first after Randolph-Macon hit its sixth 3-pointer on just its eighth attempt.
Randolph-Macon shot 55 percent from the floor and from 3-point range in the first half but sharply regressed in the second half by going just 2-of-12 from deep. Swarthmore, after shooting 88.9 percent from the floor in the first half of its previous game, shot a much more modest 38.9 percent in the first half on 14-of-36 attempts. The Garnet actually shot worse in the second half, going 11-for-30 (36.7 percent) from the floor and just 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) from deep.
Swarthmore opened the second half with a bucket from O'Dell in the paint and that proved to be the formula for success. A 10-4 burst from the Garnet to open the second half that included three O'Dell layups pulled Swarthmore within two points with just under 15 minutes to play.
A steal by Wiley with 13:27 led to a Harkins triple that evened the game at 47-47, finally erasing that 16-point deficit the Garnet had faced.
However, Randolph-Macon's lead would reach five points again with 8:49 to play. Swarthmore's defense stepped up big time and kept Randolph-Macon from scoring at all for the next eight minutes and 18 seconds.
Swarthmore took its first lead of the second half with 1:47 to play on a strong take to the hoop for two from O'Dell. RMC connected with a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to regain the lead.
Swarthmore worked the ball around the perimeter for the best shot possible and with just seven seconds left in the game, Harkins got just enough space in the corner right in front of Swarthmore's bench and knocked down the 3-pointer.
The Garnet pressured RMC on defense on the following possession and burned through two fouls to take up some clock. The Yellow Jackets fired off an errant 3-pointer got the loose ball but missed the follow up as time expired.
Swarthmore, now winners of a school record 13-straight games, moves on to the national quarterfinals for the second year in a row. The Garnet will the play Nichols at 6 p.m. on Saturday.