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The Lord Jeffs will play in the Division III title game for the third time, but not until April 7 in Atlanta.
JOHN WIMMER | Special to The Roanoke Times
Amherst’s Aaron Toomey hits a 3-pointer in front of North Central’s Brandon Williams in the Division III semifinals Saturday.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Amherst College men’s basketball team will be making another appearance in the NCAA Division III title game.
This time, it will have to wait a few weeks for a shot at cutting down the nets and hoisting a trophy.
Amherst (Mass.) advanced to the final for the third time with a 52-44 win over North Central (Ill.) on Saturday night at the Salem Civic Center.
The Lord Jeffs (29-2) will have plenty of time to prepare for their next foe.
For the first time since 1995, the semifinal winners won’t be sticking around Salem to play the championship game the next day.
“This wasn’t the championship?” Amherst coach David Hixon cracked.
This year, the title game will be held in Atlanta in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the Division I Final Four.
Amherst will meet Mary Hardin-Baylor on Sunday, April 7 at Philips Arena, on the day in between the Division I Final Four and the Division I title game at the Georgia Dome.
“A lot of film-watching [to come],” Hixon said. “It’s a long time.”
The Lord Jeffs don’t mind the wait. They are thrilled to get the chance to play at Philips Arena.
“We can go to Atlanta now, play in that huge arena,” said Allen Williamson, who had team highs with 17 points and 10 rebounds. “It really feels great. It’ll take a little while for it to all sink in.”
The Lord Jeffs didn’t even wait for the final two seconds to tick off the clock to begin celebrating, so they were whistled for a technical foul for having too many players on the court.
Amherst was making its fifth semifinal appearance in 10 seasons. It lost in the semifinals in 2004 and 2006, won the crown in 2007 and lost in the title game in 2008.
The Lord Jeffs were ranked No. 2 in the final D3hoops.com Division III Top 25 poll of the regular season. North Central, in the final four for the first time, was ranked No. 3.
Amherst shot just 31.3 percent from the field and North Central shot 28.6 percent.
“Both teams sort of set the game back,” Hixon said. “Boy, was it a physical game.
“It was a real gut check.”
Down 29-22 at halftime, North Central (28-4) opened the second half on an 10-0 run to grab a 32-29 lead with 12:25 to go. Landon Gamble had six of his 20 points in the run.
Amherst did not score in the second half until Ben Pollack made two free throws with 11:02 remaining.
The Lord Jeffs missed their first 13 shots from the field in the second half before All-American Aaron Toomey (10 points) sank a 3-pointer to tie the score at 34 with 10:01 left.
Pollack then scored to give Amherst the lead for good at 36-34 with 9:18 to go.
The Cardinals trailed just 39-38 with 6:11 left, but Amherst scored five straight points to extend the lead.
Williamson had eight of Amherst’s final 13 points.
All-American Derek Raridon of North Central was just 1 of 8 from the field. He had three points.
NORTH CENTRAL (28-4)
Rourke 0-2 0-0 0, Kmic 1-11 0-0 2, Tiknis 3-12 2-4 9, Raridon 1-8 1-2 3, Gamble 71-5 6-10 20, Williams 1-3 1-2 3, Burchett 0-1 0-0 0, Rosenberg 3-4 1-3 7, Totals 16-56 11-21 44.
Workman 1-5 1-2 3, Toomey 2-9 4-6 10, Williamson 7-15 2-5 17, Killian 0-1 0-0 2, Kaasila 1-3 2-4 4, Green 2-8 4-5 8, Pollack 1-3 2-2 4, Totals 15-48 18-28 52.
Halftime -- Amherst 29-22. 3-point goals -- NC 1 -14 (Tiknis 1-6, Kmiec 0-6, Rourke 0-2), AC 4-14 (Toomey 2-6, Kalema 1-2, Williamson 1-1, Green 0-3, Workman 0-2). Rebounds -- NC 41 (Tiknis 14), AC 42 (Williamson 10). Assists -- NC 9 (Kmiec 4), AC 8 (Kalema 4). Turnovers -- NC 12 (Kmiec 4), AC 14 (Workman 4). Steals -- NC 7 (Gamble 3), AC 8 (Workman 4). Total fouls -- NC 25, AC 17. Fouled out -- None. A -- 2,671.
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