The Continentals were tied in the UCAA standings with St. Lawrence University (both showing three league losses) until this past Saturday when the Saints lost at Rensselaer, giving them their fourth conference loss of the year and the league title and automatic NCAA berth to Hamilton.
"We're obviously very happy to be in the NCAA tournament," claimed Hamilton head coach Tom Murphy. "We will try to represent the league well."
Hamilton shows an overall record of 13-9 with two games remaining against New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) opponents Middlebury (7:30 p.m. tonight at Scott Field House in Clinton, NY) and Williams (at Williams Saturday, February 27).
The Continentals will look to reverse their fortunes of late, having dropped five of their last seven games including a four-game losing skid. In their defense, one of the losses came to Connecticut College, the number-one ranked team in the NCAA Northeast Poll.
Despite the recent slump, Hamilton's senior co-captain and All-American candidate Michael Schantz (Sharon, MA/Sharon) has continued to lead the charge for the Continentals. Schantz leads the team in scoring (25.7 points per game) and rebounding (13 rebounds per game), and is one of only two players in the nation to be ranked in the top ten in both categories (eighth in scoring, second in rebounding).
Schantz has also been busy rewriting portions of the Hamilton record book. With his 34 points in the three-point loss to Colby College this past Friday, Schantz became only the second player in Continentals' history to eclipse the 2,000 career-point mark.
After scoring 32 points the next day against Bowdoin, Schantz currently stands at 2,051 career points with two regular-season games remaining. His milestone-scoring feat is second only to Cedric Oliver, who scored 2,356 points while playing for the Continentals from 1975-79.
Schantz also recently topped the 1,000 career-rebound mark (currently at 1,111 rebounds), making him one of only two players in Continentals history to score at least 2,000 points and grab at least 1,000 rebounds. Oliver had the school's second-best rebounding career with 1,316 rebounds. Michael Smith grabbed a record total 1,628 rebounds during his four years as a Continental (1988-92), which currently stands as an NCAA Division III record.
Frontcourt teammate Jon Schmiegel (Wantagh, NY/Calhoun) is the fourth-best rebounder in the nation, grabbing 12.3 boards per contest. He also ranks second in the NESCAC for field goal percentage, hitting 60.3% (117-194) of his shots.
Sophomore guard Jim McCarthy (Jamaica Plain, MA/Brookline) has led the offensive threat from the outside for the Continentals. McCarthy leads the NESCAC in three-point field goal percentage and is ranked seventh in the nation, converting 51.5% (34-66) of his three-point efforts.
The first round of the NCAA tournament will begin Thursday, March 4. The site of Hamilton's first-round game will be determined Sunday, February 28.