MAHWAH, N.J. – The Amherst College men's basketball team received a 19-point effort from Jayde Dawson '18, but Ty Nichols hit a three-pointer with two seconds left to lift Keene State College to a thrilling, 69-66 victory over the Purple & White in Friday afternoon's NCAA Division III Championship First Round men's basketball game at the Bradley Center in Mahwah, N.J.
With the loss, Amherst closes its season 17-8 overall, while Keene State advances to the NCAA Second Round with an overall mark of 20-9.
In a back-and-forth start to the first period that saw neither team gain more than a four-point edge, Diego Magana '17 broke a 25-25 deadlock at the 4:00 minute mark with a triple, and then swished another from long distance less than two minutes later to give Amherst a 31-25 advantage. Matt Ozzella answered for Keene state with a jumper, and Jake Collagan added a triple of his own on the next Owls' next possession to narrow the deficit to one point. A Nichols jumper with 50 seconds left in the first half gave Keene State a 32-31 edge, before Eric Conklin '17 answered with a bucket in the paint for the Purple & White to give Amherst a 33-32 lead. As time expired, Nichols downed a trey to set the score at 35-33 at halftime.
More end-to-end action saw Amherst extend its lead to as many as five when Dawson hit a mid-range jumper at the 8:25 mark of the second half to set the score at 56-51, but Ozella answered with five straight points to even the game at 56-56. With under 3:30 remaining in regulation, Michael Riopel '18 put the Purple & White ahead, 64-61 when he hit the first of two free throws, but the Owls answered with 3-of-4 from the charity stripe to once again send the contest into a stalemate at 64-64. A Conklin jumper followed by two Lucas Hammel free throws made it 66 with 1:27 to play. From there, both teams came up empty on their next possessions. With eight seconds remaining, Amherst had a look at the go-ahead basket but could not get it to fall. Nichols provided the heroics for Keene State, nailing a three-pointer with just two seconds left, lifting the Owls to a 69-66 win.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Dawson led Amherst with 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the floor, pulled down four rebounds and notched four assists. Riopel followed with 16 points (including three treys) and six rebounds, while Conklin and Magana finished with 13 and nine points off the bench respectively.
- Conklin added eight rebounds in reserve, while Johnny McCarthy '18 followed with seven boards. Reid Berman '17 dished out seven helpers in the losing effort.
- Ozzella finished with a game-high 20 points and a game-best 16 rebounds, while Nichols added 19 points. Jeff Lunn contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, while Hammel netted seven points on 7-for-8 shooting from the free throw line.
- Off the bench, Jimmy Layman chipped in six board, while Nichols added three assists and three steals.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Friday's game marked the first loss in the NCAA First Round for Amherst since the 2008-09 season when the Purple & White fell to Gwynedd-Mercy, 68-62.