While the majority of the student body was basking in tropical weather, the men’s basketball team knocked off Amherst College and SUNY Potsdam to advance to the Division III Final Four.
Senior Seth Hauben scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead 21st-ranked UR to a 69-62 victory over second-ranked Amherst College in the Sweet 16 round in Amherst, Mass.
The Yellowjackets had plenty of help from guys coming off the bench to contribute points and rebounds.
Five UR players scored eight or more points. Freshman Jon Onyiriuka scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds, while sophomore Eric Snider had eight points in 13 minutes off the bench.
UR beat Amherst the way they have been beating teams all year – on the glass.
“Nineteen offensive rebounds – that’s who we are,” Head Coach Mike Neer said. “We aren’t pretty.”
The Yellowjackets held a 42-26 overall advantage on the backboards.
The Amherst Lord Jeffs used a 6-0 run over 1:32 midway through the first half to tie the game at 18-18. Senior Brendan McAllister sank a three-pointer for the Yellowjackets, followed by a 12-footer from the left wing by junior Joe Canty.
The Yellowjackets withstood multiple runs by Amherst but left the Amherst crowd silent as the buzzer sounded. UR’s win snapped Amherst’s 19-game winning streak and an 18-game home court winning streak that dated back to last season. Amherst finished its season at 26-2.
The opportunity for a UR cross-town rivalry fell apart as Potsdam defeated third-ranked St. John Fisher College, 67-43, in the first game of the doubleheader.
A victory over Potsdam would send Hauben and his fellow senior teammates back to Salem, Va., where they played their freshman year. A bit of destiny lies before the All-American and his team.
Potsdam was the lone roadblock for UR to make its second Final Four appearance in the last four years. The Yellowjackets were not to be denied. With three men in double figures and two more scoring nine points each, UR beat Potsdam, 67-51, to advance to the Final Four this year.
The Yellowjackets will be making their second trip to Salem in the last four seasons, as they will play Calvin College of Grand Rapids, Mich. in one semifinal on March 18. Defending national champion University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will play York College of Pennsylvania in the other semifinal.
Hauben scored 14 points and collected 13 rebounds against Potsdam. It was his 19th double-double in 28 games this year.
Senior point guard Gabe Perez led UR with 16 points. Sophomores Tim Brackney and Snider combined for 19 points off the bench. UR improved its record 24-4.
Hauben was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the sectional. He was joined on the All-Sectional team by his teammate Perez.
The Yellowjackets will play on Friday at 6 p.m. against Calvin College. Two more steps remain for UR to reach the top of the championship ladder.
Rovinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.