Hamilton men's NCAA run ends at home in sectional semifinals

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Christopher Newport University scored 55 points in the second half and the nationally ranked No. 9 Captains rallied from a double-digit deficit to post a 75-67 win against the Hamilton College Continentals in a 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship sectional semifinal at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Friday night.

The 10th-ranked Continentals (25-5 overall) finished their season in the third round for the second year in a row. Hamilton's 25 wins are the second-highest total in one season in program history. The Continentals, who were playing in the sectional semifinals for the sixth time overall, were trying to reach their first sectional finals (national quarterfinals).

Christopher Newport's 12th straight win put the Captains (28-3) in the sectional final where they will play No. 19 Williams College at Hamilton on Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m. The Ephs knocked off No. 2 Whitman College 84-81 in the first semifinal.

Peter Hoffmann '19 led the Continentals with 19 points and Kena Gilmour '20 chipped in 11. Hoffmann finished his career in ninth place on the team's all-time list with 1,488 points. Tim Doyle '19 drained three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points and five assists. Andrew Groll '19 nearly posted a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Groll also boasted four of Hamilton's nine blocked shots. The Continentals committed just eight turnovers.

Marcus Carter and Jason Aigner led CNU with 18 points apiece. Cutch Ellis stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 17 boards and four assists. The Captains enjoyed a 54-35 advantage on the glass, scored 19 second-chance points, and made more free throws (18) than Hamilton attempted (seven).

The Continentals held CNU to 25.9 percent shooting from the floor in the first half and led 32-20 at the break. Hamilton took its largest lead of the night of 13 points at 35-22 on a 3-pointer by Groll, and then again at 37-24 after a dunk by Groll on a feed from Hoffmann.

The Captains roared back with a 26-6 run that was capped by an Aigner 3-pointer for a 50-43 lead with 9:57 left. The Continentals went back in front thanks to a 12-3 spurt that covered the next four minutes. A jumper by Gilmour put Hamilton up 52-51 with 7:15 remaining before two free throws by Aigner gave the lead back to CNU with 6:20 to go. A basket from beyond the arc by Doyle gave the Continentals their last lead at 55-53 with 6:04 left.

The Captains scored the next seven points and led the rest of the way. CNU clinched the win by going 7 of 12 from the field in the final six minutes and 6-for-9 at the free-throw line in the last 60 seconds. Carter and Aigner scored 31 of the Captains' 55 points after the break.

CNU held a 10-8 edge midway through the first half but were held to one basket for more than eight minutes as Hamilton went on a 12-2 run that ended on a 3-pointer by Grassey for a 20-12 cushion with 4:29 remaining. After Dalon McHugh converted an old-fashioned 3-point play for the Captains with 4:09 to go, the Continentals finished the half with a 12-5 spurt. Mark Lutz '20 handed Hamilton its first double-digit lead at 25-15 on a trifecta with 2:59 left, and Doyle beat the halftime buzzer with another shot from long distance that made it a 12-point advantage. CNU was just 1 of 10 from downtown and committed 10 turnovers during the first 20 minutes.