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Andrew Schiel
NESCAC Player of the Year Andrew Schiel celebrates Amherst's third conference championship in the last five years.

NCAA Says Yes! Second-Ranked Amherst to Host NCAA Men's Basketball Regional

March 7, 2005

AMHERST, MA - After upending visiting Springfield College in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament on Saturday night, Amherst College was named the host site for one of four (four-team) NCAA Sectionals this Friday and Saturday. Undefeated St. John Fisher College will take on Potsdam St. Friday at 6 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. matchup between the University of Rochester and Amherst. The winners will meet Saturday at 7 p.m. with a trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four in Salem, Va. at stake.

Tickets ($5 for adults and $4 for students with valid ID, senior citizens and children 2 and older) will be sold at the entrance to LeFrak Gymnasium 90 minutes prior to game time on both Friday and Saturday and in the main office of Alumni Gymnasium this Wednesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. No telephone or e-mail orders will be accepted. Amherst’s games will be broadcast locally and live on the Internet by campus radio station WAMH.

Amherst shot 51.9% (27-for-52) in Saturday’s convincing win over Springfield, as sophomore sharpshooter Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) came off the bench for a career-high 19 points on scorching 6-for-6 shooting, including a 3-for-3 showing from three-point range. Senior NESCAC Player of the Year Andrew Schiel (Wayne, PA) and junior First-Team All-NESCAC selection John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) joined Wheeler in double figures with 16 and 17 points respectively, but it was Amherst’s reserves that saved the day. With Schiel and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) in foul trouble for much of the game, junior Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, CT) and sophomores Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA), Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) and Wheeler picked up the slack off the bench to the tune of 29 points on combined 9-for-12 shooting. Zalaski came up particularly big, playing a career-high 21 minutes and dishing out four assists in relief of Olson.

NESCAC Coach of the Year Dave Hixon ’75 has guided Amherst to a 26-1 start and a No. 2 national ranking on the strength of the team’s current school-record 19-game winning streak. The Jeffs swept all nine games during the NESCAC regular season, finished a perfect 4-0 in Little Three play (between Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan) and downed Bowdoin, Trinity and Bates in the conference tournament for their third NESCAC Championship in the last five years.

Amherst is making its eighth overall and sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing to the Final Four for the first time last season, the national quarterfinals in 1994 and 2003, the round of 16 in 2002 and the second round in 1997, 2000 and 2001. The Jeffs are 12-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, including a perfect 7-0 record in LeFrak Gymnasium.

After drawing a first-round bye, 21st-ranked Rochester (22-4) advanced with a 79-61 second-round win over Union College on the strength of 12 three-pointers and robust 57.3% (12-for-21) shooting from beyond the arc. This marks the third time in four years Rochester and Amherst have been stuck in the same sectional bracket. Three years ago, the Yellowjackets defeated Babson College, while sectional host SUNY Brockport eliminated Amherst. Rochester then upset Brockport to advance to the NCAA Final Four. Two years ago, Amherst downed Rochester 74-62 in the round of 16 at Williams. Rochester traveled to Williams again last season (while Amherst was shipped off to Franklin & Marshall) and bowed to Keene St. in the round of 16.

The Yellowjackets won their second consecutive University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship and placed five players on the All-UAA team. Senior forward Seth Hauben was named the UAA Player of the Year for the second straight season and was joined on the All-UAA first team by senior guard Gabe Perez. Three Yellowjackets - freshmen Jeff Juron and Jon Onyiriuka and senior Brendan McAllister - were honorable mention selections. Rochester claimed its first and only national championship in 1990.

Potsdam’s first-round bye led to a dramatic 74-73 (overtime) second-round win against visiting Salem St. Ranked 22nd nationally, the Bears (26-3) cruised to their second straight State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship and placed four seniors on the All-SUNYAC team - Edane Barton, Eldon Harris, Evril Clayton and Jim Connelly. Potsdam has two national championships under its belt, winning the Division III title in both 1981 and 1986. The Bears also advanced to the championship game in 1979, 1982 and 1985.

Meanwhile, third-ranked St. John Fisher (28-0) is the only remaining undefeated team in college basketball, winning its third straight Empire 8 title and topping Lebanon Valley College 66-58 in the NCAA second round. The Cardinals are led by Empire 8 Player of the Year Jeff Sidney and fellow all-conference selections Sean O’Brien, Nick Bennett and Mike McGee. Amherst and St. John Fisher squared off in the first round of the 2000-01 NCAA Tournament, with Amherst coming away with a hard-fought 89-76 victory.

For a complete tournament bracket and updated scores, visit www.ncaachampionships.com or www.D3hoops.com.

    AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Eighth appearance / 12-8 all-time (7-0 home, 5-8 road)
  • 1993-94 (Qualified for the NCAA Tournament in its first year of eligibility… drew first-round bye… won at Colby in second round… beat the No. 1 team in the nation, Franklin & Marshall College, which entered the game with only one loss, in the Round of 16… Fell to eventual national champion Lebanon Valley in the national quarterfinals)
  • 1996-97 (Beat visiting Colby, 83-60, in first round… fell at Williams, 86-63, in second round)
  • 1999-00 (Beat visiting WNEC, 79-77, in first round… fell at Salem State, 81-75, in second round)
  • 2000-01 (Beat visiting St. John Fisher, 89-76, in first round… fell at Clark, 89-76, in second round)
  • 2001-02 (First-round bye… beat visiting Western Connecticut State, 82-77, in second round… fell at SUNY Brockport, 69-64, in Round of 16)
  • 2002-03 (First-round bye… beat visiting Southern Vermont, 84-60, in second round… beat Rochester, 74-68, in Round of 16… fell at Sectional host Williams, 91-75, in National Quarterfinals)
  • 2003-04 (First-round bye… beat visiting Plymouth State, 113-85, in second round… beat New Jersey City, 92-74, in Round of 16… beat Sectional host Franklin & Marshall, 82-70, in National Quarterfinals… fell to Williams, 86-81, in National Semifinals… fell to John Carroll, 96-85, in Championship consolation)
  • 2004-05 (First-round bye… beat visiting Springfield, 81-68, in second round… to host Rochester in Round of 16 on Friday night)