David Hixon '75
Photo byJeff Brown
Head Coach David Hixon '75 has the Jeffs just one win shy of tying the school record for wins in a season.

Jeffs to Host Second Straight NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Sectional

March 5, 2006

AMHERST, MA – Amherst College was announced as one of four schools to host an NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Sectional on Sunday and will welcome Tufts University, Utica College and St. John Fisher College for the Round of 16 and the national quarterfinals on Friday and Saturday. Utica and St. John Fisher square off in Friday’s first game at 6 p.m., with the Amherst vs. Tufts contest to follow at 8 p.m. The winners of Friday night's contest will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. with a berth in the Final Four at stake. This marks the fifth straight season the Jeffs have reached the Round of 16 and the second straight year they will host the proceedings.

Amherst (26-2) advanced to the Round of 16 with an 83-59 victory over visiting Hamilton College on Saturday night. Senior co-captain John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) paved the way, torching the Continentals for a season-high 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while fellow senior co-captain John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) splashed five three-balls for 16 points and junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) knocked down six-of-11 tries for 16 points as well. In their seventh straight and ninth overall NCAA appearance, the Jeffs boast an 8-1 home record in national tournament play.

Friday night’s matchup with Tufts will be the third time the two squads have faced off in LeFrak Gymnasium in the last five weeks. Amherst dominated the first bout, posting a 99-70 victory to secure the NESCAC regular-season crown and the right to host the conference tournament. The Jumbos gave the Jeffs all they could handle in the second meeting, firing 55.6% (35-for-63) from the field and grabbing a 39-33 rebounding advantage, but Amherst came from behind to force overtime and earn its second consecutive NESCAC Tournament Championship with the 94-86 win. Bedford was outstanding in both tilts, dropping 29 points in the first game and notching 23 points in the second.

Tufts posted a 68-65 victory over second-round host SUNY-Cortland to reach the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time in school history. Sophomore Ryan O’Keefe led the Jumbos with 21 points on the strength of four three-pointers, while junior David Shepard and sophomore Jake Weitzen added 14 points apiece. First-Team All-NESCAC pick Dan Martin leads Tufts, which has earned a school-record 23 wins on the season, averaging 17.4 points and 6.8 rebounds on the year.

Friday’s first game will also feature familiar foes as both schools hail from the Empire 8 Conference and have already met three times this season. St. John Fisher (25-3) has won all three contests, topping the Pioneers 66-58 and 82-70 during the regular season before a 74-61 victory in the conference championship. Seniors Mike McGee and Sean O’Brien head the St. John Fisher lineup as McGee averages 13 points per game, including 22 in their 71-50 second-round win over Norwich University, while O’Brien contributes 12.7 points and 6.4 assists per game. This marks the second straight year the Cardinals will travel to Amherst for the NCAA Sectionals. Last season they fell in the Round of 16 to Potsdam State University, 67-43.

Utica toppled second-round host Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 76-58, to advance to the Round of 16 after earning its first NCAA victory in school history the previous night with a 71-66 first-round win over Gordon College. The Pioneers enter the weekend at 23-6 and are led by Ray Bryant, who averages 18.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, including a 29-point, 14-rebound performance in their second-round win.

The other three sectionals will be hosted by Lawrence University, Virginia Wesleyan University and Wittenberg College. The winners from each sectional will move on to the national semifinals, to be played Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.

For an updated tournament bracket and scores, visit: http://www.d3sports.com/playoffs/mbbbracket2006.pdf

For more information on the NCAA Division III Final Four visit: http://www.odaconline.com/hoopchamp/

AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Ninth appearance / 13-9 all-time (8-1 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 Springfield, 81-68, in second round… fell to Rochester, 69-62, in Round of 16)
  • 2005-06 (First-round bye… beat Hamilton, 83-59, in second round… will host Tufts in Round of 16…)