Men's basketball set for league semifinal

Contact: William Sodoma
Date: February 21, 2007
AMHERST, Mass. --- With a veteran team putting it together at the right time, the Colby College men's basketball team heads to Amherst College on Saturday for the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship Final Four.

The fifth-seeded Mules (15-10) take on top-seeded Amherst College in one semifinal game at 2 p.m., while second-seeded Trinity College and third-seeded Williams College clash in the other game at 4 p.m. The league final is set for Sunday at noon, with the winner getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Colby has won five straight games, including a thrilling 91-79 overtime win at fourth-seeded Middlebury College in a league quarterfinal game last Saturday.

Amherst (24-1) is ranked third nationally and took a 69-58 win over the Mules during the regular season on Colby's home court. However, the Mules trailed just 48-47 with eight minutes remaining and co-captains Nick Farrell and Drew Cohen both struggled in the game.

Cohen and Farrell have both been dominant during the winning streak. Farrell leads the NESCAC in scoring at 19.1 points per game and ranks ninth nationally in made 3-point field goals per game (3.7). Cohen is second nationally and first in the league in blocked shots per game (3.7) and also is second in rebounding (8.8) and ninth in scoring (15.5).

First-year forward Adam Choice averages 9.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Mules. He had eight points and 11 rebounds in the regular season game against Amherst. Mac Simpson (5.4 ppg), Michael Westbrooks (5.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 57 assists) and Artie Cutrone (4.9 ppg) all had solid games in the playoff win over Middlebury.

Amherst has the size of some Division I teams with 10 players at 6-foot-6 or taller, including 6-foot-10 junior center Kevin Hopkins (9.4 ppg). The key of the team, however, is 5-10 point guard Andrew Olson with 181 assists and a 10.4 scoring average to his credit. Olson had 19 points and eight assists in the win against Colby earlier in the year. Dan Wheeler (13.8 ppg) and Brian Baskauskas (11.0 ppg) are other scoring threats.

Amherst and Colby are the top two teams in the NESCAC in field goal percentage defense. Amherst is allowing just 37 percent shooting, while the Mules give up 40 percent shooting.

Amherst is the two-time defending champion of the tourney and has won four of the six NESCAC Championships since the league started a playoff format in 2001.

Trinity is 21-3 overall and posted a 77-68 win over Colby at Wadsworth Gymnasium on January 27. Williams (14-11), which has won two NESCAC titles, held on for a 65-62 win against the Mules on January 13 in Williamstown.

Ticket prices for the semifinal game at Amherst College are $5 for adults and $2 for students for each day of the tournament. There will be no pre-sale and tickets will go on sale two hours before the Colby game begins Saturday. Amherst has reserved tickets for Colby fans at the door and there will be a separate table for those tickets.

For those unable to make the men's basketball game, the game can be viewed on D3cast.com at http://www.d3cast.com/index.php


 
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