AMHERST, Mass. – A 2018-19 season that included the program's record eighth New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title came to a close on Friday evening as the Amherst College men's basketball team fell 62-58 in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2019 NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament.
The Mammoths end the year with a 25-5 record, while Nichols (28-2) extends their winning streak to 17 in a row and advances to play Swarthmore at 6:00 pm in the Elite Eight on Saturday at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Eric Sellew '20 finished his junior year with a double-double, scoring 15 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and also recording three assists, a block and a steal.
The Mammoths held Nichols to 0-6 from behind the three-point line in the first half, but the Bison shot 50% from long range in the final twenty minutes. Marcos Echevarria went 5-7 from behind the three-point line in the second half and finished with a game-high 22 points as the Bison (28-2) advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
Echevarria extended his streak of consecutive games with a made three-pointer to 104 contests, an NCAA record across all divisions.
Amherst didn't take their first lead of the game until the 4:55 mark of the first half, when first year Devonn Allen hit a three-pointer to put the home team ahead 21-18. The teams would go to the half tied at 26, with both teams shooting just under 40% from the floor and struggling from three-point range.
Sellew scored six points in a 13-4 run to open the second half as Amherst took their largest lead of the game, 39-30 at the under-12 media timeout.
A three-point shootout followed in the next few minutes, as Echevarria hit for the first time from long-range to extend his record streak. Allen answered on the other end for Amherst, who still led by eight points, but Nate Tenaglia did the same on the other end of the court.
Allen scored 14 points on a team-best 4-6 from three-point land. Garrett Day '21 scored 11 points off the bench, nine of them in the first half.
After Grant Robonson '21 hit a jump-shot, Echevarria hit from distance at the 7:50 mark to pull Nichols to within a point, and then he did the same with 7:11 to play and Nichols led 49-47.
DeAnte Bruton, who scored 16 points and dished out three assists, made a jump shot to extend the Nichols lead to four points, and Echevarria made it a seven-point advantage on the next possession.
Though Amherst would not lead again, they pulled to within three points on back to back putbacks on offensive rebounds by senior Joe Schneider, who closed out his Amherst career with six points, five rebounds and four blocks.
Sellew made a pair of free throws with thirty-six seconds left to cut the deficit to one, but after Echevarria made one of two free-throws, the Mammoths could not find a basket to tie or take the lead.
Rebounds were dead even in this contest, as Jerome Cunningham (14 rebounds, seven points) worked to offset the work of Sellew.
Points in the paint were barely in favor of Amherst (30-28), while the Mammoths had an 11-2 edge in bench points, all thanks to Day.
Amherst, who was making their 20th appearance in the NCAA tournament, falls to 43-20 in national postseason play.
Nichols improves to 4-2 in the tournament, 7-3 against Amherst and 5-0 against NESCAC opponents this season.