AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst College led their New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's basketball semifinals against Wesleyan University with seven seconds to play, but a deep three-pointer by Nathan Krill sent the Cardinals to Sunday's championship game with a 65-63 victory over the host Mammoths at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Michael Riopel '18 led Amherst offensively with 18 points on 6-12 shooting, and Johnny McCarthy '18 chipped in with 14 points, but the Mammoths will have to wait to see if they are selected to the NCAA Tournament with an At-Large bid, lest their season end with a 17-9 record.
Krill led the way for Wesleyan (21-5), leading all players with 29 points on 10-17 shooting and 7-11 from three-point range. He also had 10 rebounds.
Riopel splashed a three to give Amherst a 51-47 lead midway through the first half, and the teams played within a six point margin the rest of the way.
Krill drilled a three-pointer to help the Cardinals finally claw back into the lead, 62-61, their first lead since 11:30 remained in the half.
It was short lived, however, as Grant Robinson '21 put Amherst ahead 63-62 with a layup on the next possession with just 37 seconds to play.
Amherst forced a stop, but on their offensive end, a loose ball ended in a mad scramble and Krill came away with it, then raced down the left side of the floor and hit a deep three. McCarthy was able to get a heave on target, but it clanked off the front rim as the buzzer sounded.
It looked as though the Mammoths were poised to run away with the game, as Amherst used an early 12-0 run to take a 17-5 lead just six minutes into the game.
Amherst extended their lead to 16 at 24-8 with help from a four minutes scoring drought by the Cardinals. Wesleyan was able to erase the first half lead thanks in part to a 15-0 run led by Krill. He scored 11 of the 15 in the run and had 16 total points at the break. Krill shot an impressive 4-6 from three in the first half as well.
Riopel led Amherst offensively with 11 points on 4-6 shooting in the first period, which ended with Wesleyan holding a 38-32 lead.
McCarthy started the second half with a long three to cut the deficit in half, but the Cardinals regained a five point lead before a Fru Che '21 trey cut the lead to one. Amherst regained the lead on another Johnny McCarthy three to make it 48-47 Amherst with 11:30 left to play in the game, and the Mammoths didn't trail again until the final minute.