Men's basketball advances to league tournament final
Pat Sullivan '12 scored a game-high 27 points to lead Hamilton College to a 62-60 win against Hobart College in a 2011 Liberty League tournament semifinal at Hobart's Bristol Gym on Feb. 25.
Hamilton (16-9 overall), the No. 4 seed in the four-team tournament, advanced to the tournament championship game against No. 3 seed Skidmore College at Bristol Gym on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. Skidmore defeated No. 2 seed Rensselaer 76-69 in the first semifinal. Hobart was the tournament's No. 1 seed.
Sullivan was 12 of 17 from the field, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. His 3-pointer with 5:58 left in the first half put the Continentals in front to stay at 22-21. He was selected the league's offensive player of the year on Thursday.
Ryan Wright '14 chipped in 10 points and three assists for the winners. Greg Newton '14 came off the bench to post nine points, a game-high nine rebounds and three assists. Matt Dean '14 added seven boards and two steals.
Matt Pebole and Blair Helton paced the Statesmen with 15 points apiece. Helton was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line off the bench. Tim Llewellyn had nine points, three assists and three steals. Stefan Thompson scored eight points and handed out three assists, and Adam Salzmann grabbed eight rebounds.
Hobart (19-7) led 5-2 early in the first half, but Hamilton rattled off the next six points for an 8-5 advantage. The Statesmen came back to tie the score at 8-8 and 15-15, and took its last lead at 21-19 on a 3-pointer by Llewellyn with 8:13 left in the half.
The Continentals responded with an 8-0 run to move ahead for good. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Sullivan and a layup by Newton made it 27-21 with 4:15 remaining. Hamilton led 31-26 at the break. Sullivan finished the half with 18 points.
A 3-pointer by Salzmann opened the second half and pulled Hobart within two at 31-29. The Continentals pulled away with a 12-4 run to open up their biggest lead of the night at 10 points (43-33) with 15:21 left. Ephraim McDowell '12 scored all six of his points during the spurt.
The Statesmen tried to catch up the rest of the night, and came within two points four times during the next 14 minutes, including 56-54 after a Thompson layup with 1:25 remaining. A jumper in the paint by Sullivan put Hamilton back up by four points with 50 seconds left. Pebole drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 58-57 with 35 seconds remaining.
Wright was fouled with 23 seconds left and calmly made both free throws for a 60-57 cushion. Pebole missed a shot from beyond the arc on the next possession, Newton grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled. He made 1 of 2 at the line to just about clinch the victory with eight seconds remaining.
Greg Stern made it a one-point game one last time on a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left. Wright was fouled before the inbounds pass. He made the first free throw, missed the second and the Continentals had their upset.
Hamilton shot 50 percent from the floor while Hobart recorded a chilly 30.6 percent. The Statesmen defeated the Continentals by three points twice during the regular season.
Hamilton will aim for its fifth league tournament title on Saturday. The Continentals own a 13-6 record in this event. Skidmore is in the final for the first time after winning its second tournament game in 12 years.