MEDFORD, Mass. – Despite a pair of early runs from third-seeded Amherst College men's basketball, second-seed Colby College topped the Mammoths, 65-61, in semifinals action of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship on Saturday night at Cousens Gymnasium.
The Mammoths, who made it to the NESCAC semifinals for the ninth time in the last 10 years, drop their eighth game on the season and move to 18-8 overall. Amherst will aim for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced by the organization on Monday, March 2nd at 12:00 PM ET.
Colby advances to the NESCAC title game tomorrow at 2:30 PM for the first time in program history and improve to 24-2 on the season.
Amherst came out firing in the opening three minutes of play, accruing a 10-0 run out of the gate led by four points from Eric Sellew '20 to take an early 10 point lead.
Continuing their red-hot shooting, Grant Robinson '21 put Amherst ahead 21-8 with a three-pointer at the 10:58 mark. However, Colby made an 11-2 run to bring it to within two points (25-23) with 5:44 remaining.
Robinson and Garrett Day '21 cashed in shots from deep to help create separation as the Mammoths entered the break up 38-32.
At the half, Tim McCarthy '21 led Amherst with 10 points, including two from three-point range, while Day tallied eight points on 3-5 shooting. Robinson had eight points off the bench as Amherst was shooting 48.3% from the floor and 43.8% from beyond the arc.
Matt Hanna reeled in a team-high 10 points on 4-9 shooting, adding three rebounds, while Noah Tyson had eight points and five rebounds as the Mules were shooting 31.3% from the floor and 25% from deep.
Going down 40-38 following a layup from Ty Williams, Josh Chery knocked down a three-pointer to regain the lead (41-40) before Sellew swatted away Wallace Tucker's shot with emphatic force on the defensive end.
Up three (47-44), Garrett Day '21 launched a deep three-pointer and was fouled, sinking the shot and the free-throw to convert the four-point play and expand the Mammoths lead to seven points (51-44).
With 5:32 remaining, Hanna slipped the defense and laid it off the glass to give the Mules the 57-56 lead. Colby scored on consecutive possessions after that, but Sellew answered for each score to keep Amherst within one (61-60).
Tyson netted the decisive shot from far beyond the three-point line, which put the Mules up 64-60 with 2:22 remaining. Corralling an offensive rebound, Devonn Allen '21 was sent to the line where he sunk one of his two shots to bring it to 64-61.
Forced to foul, Amherst sent Williams to the line where he sunk one of his free throws to give Colby a two-possession lead (65-61), and ultimately, the win as Amherst couldn't net either shots in the waning seconds.
Amherst saw four players in double-figures as Sellew scored a team-high 13 points, while Day and Allen scored 12 apiece. Sellew and Allen accrued eight rebounds, respectively. Amherst ended the game shooting 36.4% from the field and 31% from deep, while Colby noted a field-goal percentage of 35.5%.
The Mammoths held a 45-44 advantage in rebounding and 13-12 edge in assists, including 21 bench points. Colby scored 30 points in the paint compared to Amherst's 20.