NCAA Third Round: Nichols 62, Amherst 58

NCAA Third Round: Nichols 62, Amherst 58

Courtesy of Amherst Sports Information

AMHERST, Mass. – A 2018-19 season that included the program's record eighth NESCAC title came to a close on Friday evening as the Amherst College men's basketball team fell 62-58 in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

The Mammoths end the year with a 25-5 record, while Nichols (28-2) extends its winning streak to 17 in a row and advances to play Swarthmore at 6 p.m. in the Elite Eight on Saturday at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Eric Sellew finished his junior year with a double-double, scoring 15 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and also recording three assists, a block, and a steal.

The Mammoths held Nichols to 0-for-6 from behind the 3-point line in the first half, but the Bison shot 50 percent from long range in the final 20 minutes. Marcos Echevarria went 5-for-7 from behind the arc in the second half and finished with a game-high 22 points as the Bison advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.  

Echevarria extended his streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer to 104 contests, an NCAA record across all divisions.

Amherst took its first lead of the game at the 4:55 mark of the first half when Devon Allen hit a 3-pointer to put the home team ahead 21-18. The teams would go to the half tied at 26, with both teams shooting just under 40 percent from the floor and struggling from 3-point range.

Sellew scored six points in a 13-4 run to open the second half as Amherst took its largest lead of the game, 39-30 at the under-12 media timeout.

A 3-point shootout followed in the next few minutes, as Echevarria hit for the first time from long-range to extend his record streak. Allen answered on the other end for Amherst, who still led by eight points, but Nate Tenaglia did the same on the other end of the court.

Allen scored 14 points on a team-best 4-for-6 from 3-point land. Garrett Day scored 11 points off the bench, nine of them in the first half.

After Grant Robonson hit a jump-shot, Echevarria scored from distance at the 7:50 mark to pull Nichols to within a point, and then added another basket with 7:11 to play and Nichols leading 49-47.

DeAnte Bruton, who scored 16 points and dished out three assists, made a jump shot to extend the Nichols lead to four points, and Echevarria made it a seven-point advantage on the next possession.  

Though Amherst would not lead again, it pulled to within three points on back-to-back putbacks on offensive rebounds by Joe Schneider, who closed out his Amherst career with six points, five rebounds and four blocks.

Sellew made a pair of free throws with 36 seconds left to cut the deficit to one, but after Echevarria made one of two free throws, the Mammoths could not find a basket to tie or take the lead.

Amherst, which was making its 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, falls to 43-20 in national postseason play.