No. 13 men's hoops boasts 14-point win over Nazareth at NCAAs

Kena Gilmour '20 glides in for a layup against Nazareth in an NCAA championship first round game at York College of Pennsylvania on Friday. The Continentals won 86-72 and advanced to Saturday's second round at York (Ryan Murray photo).
Kena Gilmour '20 glides in for a layup against Nazareth in an NCAA championship first round game at York College of Pennsylvania on Friday. The Continentals won 86-72 and advanced to Saturday's second round at York (Ryan Murray photo).

Hamilton College's Kena Gilmour '20 posted his fifth double-double this season with game highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds and the Continentals posted an 86-72 win against the Nazareth College Golden Flyers in a 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship first round game at York College of Pennsylvania's Charles Wolf Gymnasium on Friday afternoon.

Nationally ranked No. 13 Hamilton (23-4 overall) advances to the second round where they will take on No. 11 York at Wolf Gymnasium on Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m. The Spartans advanced with an 81-67 victory against Yeshiva University earlier in the afternoon. Tickets go on sale at 5:30 p.m. and doors open at 6. Cost of admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens (ages 65 and over).

The Continentals are making their 10th appearance in the national tournament and they own an 11-9 all-time record in the event. Hamilton also triumphed in the first round in 2006 in the Continentals' previous trip to the championship. Hamilton's 23 wins this season are tied for the second-highest total in program history.

Gilmour, who tied a career best with his dozen boards, went 8-for-9 at the free-throw line. He leads the team in scoring with 17.7 points per game. Hamilton ended up going 26-for-35 (74.3 percent) at the charity stripe.

Andrew Groll '19 provided a spark off the bench with a season-high 16 points for the Continentals. Peter Hoffmann '19 chipped in 15 points and Michael Grassey '19 contributed 12 points and eight rebounds.

Hamilton's size advantage played a big role in the outcome as the Continentals enjoyed a 51-34 edge on the glass thanks in part to 17 offensive rebounds. Hamilton racked up 46 points in the paint and scored 19 second-chance points.

Jake Burgio paced Nazareth (20-8) with 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. Cody Green and Chris Jones added 12 points apiece off the bench. Jones shot 3 of 3 from the field and was 6-for-7 at the line in just 13 minutes. The Empire 8 Conference regular season and tournament champions were 26-for-31 (83.9 percent) at the free-throw line.

The Continentals held a 41-32 lead at the break and went up by 12 on a 3-pointer by Hoffmann just 20 seconds into the second half, but the Golden Flyers came back to make things interesting. Hamilton still led 58-51 after Grassey was fouled as he made a layup with 12:36 left. Green responded with four straight points and Nazareth's Stephen Gabel made two free throws after he grabbed his own miss on a 3-point attempt and was fouled. Groll made the first of two free throws but Gabel drained both of his with 9:05 remaining and pulled the Golden Flyers within two points at 61-59 for the first time since midway through the first half.

Nazareth cut its deficit to two points on two more occasions -- at 62-60 on a Burgio free throw with 7:57 to go and at 64-62 on two more Burgio freebies with 7:23 left. The Continentals finally put some distance between themselves and the Golden Flyers with an 8-1 spurt that covered the next 2:30. Joe Pucci '18 canned a jumper and Hoffmann scored six points in a row punctuated by a baseline drive and two-handed slam dunk after a free throw by Nazareth's Daniel Jacob for a 72-63 lead with 4:54 remaining.

The Golden Flyers didn't get closer than seven points the rest of the way. A layup by Brendan Wind with 3:19 to go made it 74-67 and was Nazareth's first field goal in more than eight minutes. Spencer Kendall '21 scored the next four points and Gilmour added four more, and Hamilton had its largest lead of 15 points at 82-67 with 2:05 left.

The teams combined for eight lead changes and neither led by more than four points for the first 14 minutes of the first half. Burgio made a layup that forged the third and final tie at 23-23 with 10:06 remaining and then the Continentals went on an 8-0 run that provided them some cushion going into the break. Vince Conn '20 made two free throws, Jack Dwyer '18 scored on a driving layup, Ty Washington '21 grabbed a miss and converted the putback, and Groll's layup made it 31-23 with 5:22 to go.

Hamilton led by at least five points the rest of the half and Hoffmann's offensive board and layup beat the halftime buzzer for the nine-point advantage. The Golden Flyers had one offensive rebound in the opening 20 minutes. Today was the first meeting between the programs in 25 years.

York (24-4) ended up No. 1 in the final NCAA Middle Atlantic Region rankings. The Spartans are making their fifth appearance in the NCAA championship and evened their all-time record at 5-5 with the win over Yeshiva. York made a run to the national semifinals in 2005. The Spartans tied for first in the Capital Athletic Conference standings at 14-4 and then won the conference tournament. York started the season with 16 wins in a row, and the Spartans are 12-1 at home. York averages 82.9 points per game and allows 74.2 per contest. All five starters average in double figures in scoring led by Dalton Myers (17.5 ppg) and Blayde Reich (16.8 ppg).