Mike Salerno '07
Photo by Erik Andrews '09
Senior quad-captain Mike Salerno

Amherst to Host Third-Straight NCAA Sectional

By Mike Wohl '07

March 5, 2007

AMHERST, MA – Amherst College has been named one of four host institutions for the 2007 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Sectional for the third straight year. Stevens Institute of Technology, Rhode Island College and Keene State College are the three teams joining Amherst in the Round of 16 this coming weekend.

RIC will play Little East Conference rival Keene State College Friday night at 6 p.m., with Amherst and Stevens playing the night cap at 8 p.m. The two winners will square off Saturday at 7 p.m. with a trip to the Final Four at stake. This marks the sixth straight season that the Lord Jeffs have reached the Round of 16.

Amherst (26-2) received a first-round bye and defeated Widener University, 87-70, on Saturday in LeFrak gymnasium. Junior center Kevin Hopkins (Greenfield Center, NY) led Amherst with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting in just 22 minutes. Senior quad-captain Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) added 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting and led Amherst with seven rebounds, while junior point guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) dished out 12 assists without turning the ball over. Olson’s 12 assists gives him 504 in his career, surpassing Ryan Faulkner ’03 (498) and vaulting him to the top spot on the all-time Amherst assist leader board.

The 8 p.m. Friday match-up between Stevens and Amherst will be the first meeting between the two programs. Stevens (23-6) comes out of the Skyline Conference where they fell to SUNY-Old Westbury, 80-83, in the semifinals. A bubble team on selection Sunday, Stevens was pleasantly surprised when they found out that they had earned a Pool C at-large bid. This weekend, Stevens traveled to Worcester Polytech Institution where they defeated host WPI, 68-57, and Ramapo College, 69-61, on consecutive days.

Stevens is led by junior guard Waleed Farid, who averaged 20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game in the Ducks’ two NCAA tournament wins, including a 27-point, 14-rebound and five-steal effort Saturday vs. Ramapo in the Round of 32. Farid is the second leading scorer for Stevens, averaging 18.0 points per game. Sophomore guard Virgil Gray II leads the Ducks on the season, dumping in a whopping 19.7 points per contest.

Dan O'Shea ;07
Photo by Erik Andrews '09
Senior quad-captain Dan O'Shea

Friday’s 6 p.m. game features two Little East Conference opponents who will be facing each other for the fourth time this season. The Keene State College Owls (25-5) defeated Rhode Island College in the two regular season meetings, 82-78 and 92-81. The Owls are led by a pair of dangerous sophomores, Tyler Kathan and Nate Anderson. Kathan averages 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while Anderson averages 12.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Keene rolled over Rivier College, 81-47, in the first round, and then defeated host Salem State, 76-75, to reach the Round of 16.

The RIC Anchormen (26-3) avenged the two regular season losses and beat the Owls, 87-75, in the LEC Championship game. RIC is led by senior Kinsey Durgin and sophomore Tirrell Hill, who average 13.9 and 11.3 points per game, respectively. Durgin also leads RIC in assists (84) and is second in rebounds (147). The Anchormen defeated Coast Guard, 64-60, and Brandeis University, 70-67, on back-to-back evenings at home to land themselves in the Round of 16. RIC’s only other loss this season was a 48-62 home defeat at the hands of Amherst College Jan. 30.

The other three sectionals will be hosted by Wisconsin Stevens-Point, Virginia Wesleyan University and St. John Fisher College. The winners from each sectional will move on to the national semifinals, to be played Friday and Saturday, March 16-17, at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia.

Tickets for this weekend’s games can be purchased at the door, which opens at 4 p.m. Adults will be charged $7 per ticket, students with a valid ID will be charged $4, and children under 2 will be admitted free of charge.

Tickets will also be pre-sold Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Alumni Gymnasium and Thursday between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Valentine Dining Hall. Tickets will also be sold when the doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday.

The first of Friday's games will be broadcast live by the Keene State radio station, while the second game will be broadcast live by the Amherst radio station, WAMH. 

Click here for a full tournament bracket.

AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Tenth appearance / 16-11 all-time (10-1 home, 6-10 road/neutral)

  • 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… beat Tufts in overtime, 90-85, in Round of 16… beat St. John Fisher, 93-70, in National Quarterfinals… fell to Wittenberg, 64-60, in National Semifinals… fell to Illinois Wesleyan, 71-68, in Championship consolation)
  • 2006-07 (First-round bye… beat Widener University, 87-70, in second round…paired up with Stevens Institute of Technology in Round of 16)