NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship Heads to Hamilton

NESCAC Men's Basketball Championship Heads to Hamilton

HADLEY, Mass. – Hamilton, the No. 2 seed in the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship, will host the remaining rounds of the NESCAC Championship at Margaret Bundy Scott Field House for the first time in program history. Hamilton will face No. 8 Tufts at 2 p.m. and No. 3 Amherst will meet No. 4 Williams at 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 23. The semifinal winners will square off on Sunday, February 24 at 12 p.m.

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Hamilton (22-3) defeated No. 7 Colby, 93-88, to advance to the semifinals for the second straight year. The Continentals are seeking their first trip to the championship game. Junior Kena Gilmour (New Paltz, N.Y.) and senior Peter Hoffmann (Putnam Valley, N.Y.) scored 19 points each to pace the Continentals in the victory. Gilmour ranks second in the league in scoring, averaging 19.8 points per game, while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor. Senior Michael Grassey (Winchester, Mass.) leads Hamilton on the boards, grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game and has drained 53 3-pointers and is shooting 37.9 percent from behind the arc. Grassey and Hoffmann are chipping in over 12 points per game, and all three players have started every game for the Continentals.
 
Tufts (12-13) became the first eight seed to advance out of the quarterfinals with an upset of top-seeded Middlebury. The Jumbos’ upset of the Panthers propelled them into the semifinals for the third time in four years. Tufts is attempting to reach its second conference final and win its first NESCAC title. The Jumbos last played in the NESCAC title game in 2006. Junior Eric Savage (South Brunswick N.J.) posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds and three other Jumbos reached double-digits to lead Tufts past Middlebury. Savage leads Tufts in scoring (15.7 ppg), while also collecting 6.4 rebounds and handing out 3.3 assists per game. Sophomore Luke Rogers (Boxborough, Mass.) ranks third in the NESCAC in rebounding (9.0 rpg) and is shooting 56.3 percent from the field while averaging 14.1 points per game. Classmate Brennan Morris (East Hempstead, N.H.) is shooting 43.1 percent from 3-point range with 56 treys and averages 13.7 points per game. The Jumbos are the best free throw shooting squad among the remaining teams, shooting 71.5 percent from the stripe.
 
In the regular season matchup on February 2, the Continentals trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half. Hamilton took its first lead of the game with 4:16 remaining in the contest. Grassey scored a go-ahead basket in the final minute and his free throw with four seconds remaining clinched an 87-83 victory for Hamilton. The NESCAC tournament series between the two teams is knotted at 1-1. They last met in the 2018 quarterfinal round with Hamilton posting a 91-82 victory.
 
Two arch rivals will meet in the second semifinal when No. 3 Amherst (21-4) faces No. 4 Williams (20-5). The squads boast the top two defenses in the league as Amherst is allowing 63.6 points per game, while Williams is giving up 65.4 points per game. 
 
Sophomore Fru Che (Somerville, Mass.) scored a career-high 30 points to lead Amherst past No. 6 Wesleyan, 63-56, in the quarterfinals. The Mammoths are in the semifinals for the second year in a row and are making their eighth appearance in nine years. Amherst, which has won seven titles, looks to return to the NESCAC Championship game for the first time since 2016. Amherst leads the NESCAC in steals (8.4 pg) and ranks second in rebounding (44.8 rpg).  Senior Joseph Schneider (Longmeadow, Mass.) ranks second in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 62.1 percent from the floor. Sophomore Grant Robinson (McLean, Va.) leads Amherst in scoring (15.3 ppg) and assists (3.1 pg), while junior Eric Sellew (Carlisle, Mass.) is contributing 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Che is chipping in 11.1 points per game for the Mammoths.
 
Williams made 11 of 12 free throws in the closing minutes of its quarterfinal contest versus No. 5 Trinity to seal an 88-77 victory over the Bantams. The Ephs, the defending NESCAC Champion, are in the semifinals for the third straight season and are seeking their third consecutive trip to the championship game and sixth NESCAC title. Williams leads the league in field goal percentage, shooting 50.1 percent from the floor, while holding opponents to 37.3 percent shooting. Senior Bobby Casey (Scranton, Pa.) is averaging 18.5 points per game, good for third in the league, and is one of four Ephs averaging double figures. Casey also leads the league in assists (4.4 pg) and ranks second in 3-pointers made (73) while shooting 39.0 percent from long range. Senior James Heskett (Cincinnati, Ohio) ranks among the NESCAC scoring leaders, averaging 17.1 points per game, and is shooting 39.9 percent from beyond the arc, while classmate Kyle Scadlock (Twinsburg, Ohio) is chipping in 14.0 points, shooting 54.1 percent from the floor, and grabbing 7.4 rebounds per game.
 
Amherst won both regular season meetings against the Ephs. On January 16, the Mammoths erased an 11-point deficit before posting a 63-62 victory. The lead changed three times in the final 34 seconds, but Che’s jumper with eight seconds left proved to be the game-winner. In a conference contest, Amherst used a 14-2 run late in the game to take a lead with 6:10 remaining. Williams sliced the Mammoths’ advantage to two with 35 seconds left, but Amherst made five free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Amherst is 5-4 against Williams in the NESCAC Championship, but the Ephs earned a 76-69 victory when the teams last met in the 2017 quarterfinals.
 
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.