No. 5 Keene State College (20-8) at No. 1 Amherst College (20-4)
ECAC Division III New England Men's Basketball Semifinal
Friday, March 6, 1998 * 7:00 p.m. * LeFrak Gymnasium
Amherst men's basketball enters the ECAC Semifinals as the No. 1 seed of the tournament. This is the third time in four years that the Jeffs have earned an ECAC bid as three seniors seek their third tournament title. Amherst has made five-straight post-season appearances, including NCAA seasons in 1994 and 1996.
The Jeffs are making their 13th appearance in the ECAC Tournament and boast a 17-8 record in the since the beginning of its Division II/III Championship in 1973. Amherst has won four titles to tie Trinity College for the most by a single institution. The Jeffs claimed the crown in 1976, 1988 and back-to-back titles in 1995 and 1996, while falling to the eventual champion in 1981, 1982, 1987 and 1990. The New England tournament became a strictly Division III competition in 1981.
Amherst and Keene State men's basketball meet for the first time on Friday, March 6 at 7:00pm in LeFrak Gymnasium. The fifth-seeded Owls bring a 20-8 record into the semifinal, their first post-season appearance since a 1977 NAIA District Five Championship. Formerly competing at the NCAA Division II level, this is Keene State's first season in Division III. The Owls advanced to the semifinals with a 101-90 victory over Worcester State College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
|ECAC Division III New
1979 Sacred Heart*
1980 St. Anselm*
1981 Mass. Maritime
1983 Rhode Island College
1994 Western Connecticut
1997 Eastern Nazarene
*Division II-III champion
The Jeffs are coming off a 122-86 rout of eighth-seeded Emerson to kick-off the post-season. An offensive-minded defense nabbed 13 steals and caused 20 Lion turnovers in the first half alone toward a 56-33 lead at the break, the largest Amherst advantage this season heading into the locker room. Amherst closed out the game shooting 79% from the floor in the second half and draining seven of the team's nine 3's for the night. Four of the 14 Lord Jeffs who saw playing time notched double-figures in the quarterfinals.
Senior tri-captain John Pavelski (Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ) leads the way for the Jeffs with 14.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. The forward knocked down 20 points against Emerson with the help of four 3-pointers as the Jeffs' 6th all-time leading scorer with 1,379 points. His 188 treys are second on the career 3-point field goal list, and he is 11 away from claiming the record as his own. Pavelski was recently named to to the Academic All-District Team for the second-straight year.
Sophomore Pat Mulvey (Rye, NH) also chips in 14.0 points per game in his first year as a starter. The 6-3 guard leads the team with 44 3-pointers this season, and he has been known to indulge in a breakaway dunk on several occasions. Mulvey finished the regular season with a career-high 31 points and seven rebounds at NESCAC rival Wesleyan for a piece of the Little III title.
The guard trio of senior tri-captain Julian "Bubba" Rowand (Washington, DC), junior Chris Ingraham (Tuscon, AZ) and sophomore Hugh Quattlebaum (Andover, MA) provide a lethal mix of defensive intensity and offensive output. Collectively, the trio averages 27.1 points and 11.7 rebounds a game. Against Emerson, they combined for nine steals and seven assists, including a career-high five-steal, four-assist game for Quattlebaum. Meanwhile, center Billy Skorupski (North Hatfield, MA) pulls down 8.5 rebounds a game while swatting at least one shot in each showing. The tri-captain averages 13.9 points a contest.
"I'm expecting a fast-paced, high-scoring, full-court press, run-and-shoot situation from them," noted Amherst Head Coach David Hixon, "and from us, we'll try to control the tempo. We like to score points and keep the flow of the game, but our best wins have come when we keep people in the 60s and 70s, not in the 90s." Hixon, a 1975 graduate of Amherst, is the college's winningest basketball coach with a 336-175 (65.8%) record in his 21st season.