ASTON, Pa. — The Endicott men's basketball team tasted sweet victory over a familiar foe, Nichols College, 111-75, Saturday night inside The Mirenda Center in the Second Round of the NCAA DIII Tournament to make the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 7:00 PM | THE MIRENDA CENTER @ NEUMANN UNIVERSITY | ASTON, PA.
In what looked to be the makings of another instant classic in this Second Round showdown, each team answered bucket for bucket in the opening minutes
Nichols managed a seven-point edge with 15:37 remaining in the opening stanza before senior guard Max Motroni (West Warwick, R.I.) rallied the troops to lead the floor in the first half for the second night in a row.
Motroni dropped 22 of his 34 career-high points in the frame and helped the Gulls created some separation with a 9-0 run over the last two minutes to head into halftime up, 55-44.
Just as they have for the majority this season, the Gulls turned up the heat in the second half and dominated with perimeter shooting to capitalize on each possession to extend the lead to as much as 39 with 1:38 remaining in the game.
Endicott put on absolute clinic with superb ball movement to find the open man to place five student-athletes in double figures to go alongside 23 assists (tied for second-most this season) and matched their lowest turnover total of the year (seven).
Senior forward Chris Lipscomb (West Springfield, Mass.) played the role of unsung hero for Endicott as he tallied 19 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, including four of the offensive variety to give the Gulls a second chance when they needed it most.
With tonight's win, the Gulls' senior class (2013-2017) became the winningest class to ever come through the Endicott men's basketball program, surpassing the group from 2002-2006 (83-31) with an overall record of 84-33 and at least one more game to play as the Gulls will keep on dancing.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Tonight's matchup ensured that the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) will be sending a conference member to the NCAA Third Round for the first time since Anna Maria went during the 1995-96 season.
- Endicott is now 3-2 in the NCAA Tournament under the direction of head coach Kevin Bettencourt in his third year with the program.
- In addition, tonight's win set a new program record for most wins in a single season (24), as well as a new season-high 54.3 percent shooting in the game.
- The Gulls now have four games scoring at least 100 points this season.
- 111 points is also new season-high for Endicott, and falls one point shy of tying the program record for most points in a single game. (112 vs. Castleton on 03/05/14)
- They say it's "Always Sunny In Philadelphia", but Endicott made it rain with 19 three-pointers, for its 12th game this season with at least 10 treys and was just one shy of tying the program record (20) set earlier this season against Roger Williams (02/11/17).
- Motroni finished with a team season-high 34 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
- Senior guard Kamahl Walker (Worcester, Mass.) chipped in 15 points to go with a game-high seven assists.
- Sophomore guard Vinny Clifford (Danvers, Mass.) hit four big three-pointers off the bench for a healthy 12 points.
- Endicott and Nichols met for the fourth time this season and 29th time in program history.
- The Gulls control the overall ledger, 18-11, and have won five of the past eight meetings, despite a 2-2 record this season.
- The Gulls and Bison split the regular-season series with a 93-80 win at home on Jan. 14, 2017, and a road loss (92-87) on Feb. 8, 2017.
- In their last meeting, in the CCC Tournament Championship last Saturday, Nichols was victorious, 67-64, but the Gulls were hungry for a shot at redemption on the biggest stage yet and did so tonight.
FOR THE FOES
- The Bison came into the game winners of the past 12 games in a row, but had that streak snapped tonight.
- Sophomore guard Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.) headlined three Bison in double digits with his 30 points (six splashes from beyond the arc), followed by 13 from freshman guard DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.).
- Freshman forward Jerome Cunningham (Westbury, N.Y.) registered a double-double with 11 points and a game-best 10 rebounds.
- The Bison earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth this season after winning their first CCC Championship last weekend.
- As two of roughly 13 teams from the Northeast Region to enter the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17, this is the first time since the 2005-06 season that the CCC sent two teams (Endicott and Nichols) from its conference to the Big Dance.
- After appearing in their third conference title game in the past five years, the Gulls are making their eighth overall NCAA appearance (third consecutive) in program history and first-ever as an at-large selection.
- Last season, Endicott advanced to the Second Round for the first time ever with an 84-76 win over host No. 22 Catholic, before falling in overtime to Wooster, 91-83.
Endicott (24-6) moves on to the NCAA's Sweet 16 with No. 6 Middlebury punched in next on the dance card on Friday, March 10 at a site and time to be determined.
NCAA DIII MEN'S BASKETBALL FIRST/SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE
Friday, March 3, 2017
All games hosted by Neumann University (Aston, Pa.)
Game 1: Endicott 71, No. 16 Salisbury 68
Game 2: Nichols 96, No. 11 Neumann 93
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Endicott 111 vs. Nichols 75