Swarthmore, Pa. - March 9, 2018 - The Springfield College men's basketball team pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind victory in overtime against No. 13 Hamilton, 92-90, in the NCAA Division III Championship Sweet 16 on Friday evening in Tarble Pavilion in Lamb Miller Field House on the campus of Swarthmore College.
With the win, Springfield advances to the NCAA Division III Championship Elite Eight for the first time in program history as it improved to 21-8, marking the seventh time in program history that the Pride has hit the 21-win plateau, and the first since the 2004-05 campaign. The loss ends the Continentals season at 24-5.
Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) continued to shine for the Pride as he totaled 36 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals in 45 minutes of action. Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) totaled 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, Andy McNulty (West Springfield, Mass.) produced 14 points and five assists, Brandon Eckles (East Greenwich, R.I.) scored 11 points, and Cam Earle (South Hadley, Mass.) netted 10 in the victory. Springfield finished the game shooting 33-for-66 (50%) and went 16-of-19 from the charity stripe.
For Hamilton, Kena Gilmour poured in a game-high 40 points, while Peter Hoffmann talled 16 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. The Continentals held a 39-29 edge on the glass and outscored the Pride 54-32 in the paint, but shot just 13-of-22 from the charity stripe.
The Pride raced out to a 7-0 lead just 2:07 into the contest as an inside finish by Ross forced Hamilton into an early timeout. The Continentals responded with a 12-2 push to take a 12-9 advantage on a triple by Gilmour with 14:27 on the clock. After a bucket from Kevin Durkin (Worcester, Mass.) evened the game at 16-all at the 11:18 mark, Hamilton responded with nine-straight points to take their largest lead of the early going, 25-16, with 8:50 to play.
Springfield answered right back with a 12-2 burst of their own, capped off triple from the left wing by Ben Diamond (New York, N.Y.), which would give the Pride a 28-27 edge. Earle finished a tough stepback jumper for a 37-33 advantage with 2:56 on the clock, only to have the Continentals close the half on a 7-2 push to head into the break with a 40-39 edge. Both teams shot 52% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of play, but Hamilton was able to use a 19-9 edge in the paint to aid in outscoring the Pride in the paint, 28-12.
A back-and-forth start to the second half saw the lead change six times in the first six minutes, as Ross knocked down a pair from the line for Springfield to give the Pride a 54-51 lead with 13:24 to play. However, Gilmour would heat up and power his team to a 10-1 burst as he netted eight points to give the Continentals a 61-55 lead and force Springfield into a timeout at 11:29. Hamilton's lead would grow to 70-60 on a three-point play by Andrew Groll with less than eight minutes on the clock, but 8-2 run by the Pride, capped off by a Ross finish in transition, made it a four-point contest with 4:00 to play. Hamilton's lead would balloon to eight, 76-68, with just 2:44 remaning, but Ross put the Pride on his back, keying a 10-1 run with seven points of his own and assisting on an Eckles trifecta to make it a 79-78 game with 15 seconds left. Gilmour would cash in on two from the line, and after the Pride came up empty on a three-point bid with five seconds remaining, Hamilton had an opportunity to ice the game from the line. However, after the Continentals missed both free throws with three seconds remaining, Post grabbed the rebound and found McNulty, who pulled up from three from 35 feet at the horn for his first three-pointer of the game to force overtime.
Springfield jumped out to an 88-82 lead after another huge triple from McNulty, but the Continentals would answer back to get within 88-87 when Gilmour netted two more from the line with 30 seconds left. However, the Pride showed plenty of resolve in the waning moments, and both Earle and McNulty hit a pair of free throws as the Pride held on for the overtime victory.