No. 10 men's basketball survives and advances in NCAAs

Nick Osarenren '22, Andrew Groll '19, Spencer Kendall '21 and Kena Gilmour '20 (left to right) celebrate the Continentals' 72-70 win over Penn State Behrend in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship on Friday night at Hamilton (Josh McKee photo).
Nick Osarenren '22, Andrew Groll '19, Spencer Kendall '21 and Kena Gilmour '20 (left to right) celebrate the Continentals' 72-70 win over Penn State Behrend in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship on Friday night at Hamilton (Josh McKee photo).

Hamilton College's Kena Gilmour '20 poured in 26 points and helped the nationally ranked No. 10 Continentals edge Penn State Behrend 72-70 in a 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship first round game at Hamilton's Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Friday night.

The Continentals (24-4 overall) will take on Moravian College in an NCAA second round contest at Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m. Moravian posted an 86-65 victory over Keene State College in the earlier game at Hamilton.

Gilmour added five rebounds and three steals for the Continentals, who have won 24 games for the second straight season. Peter Hoffmann '19 chipped in 19 points and Andrew Groll '19 added seven points and five boards. Sayo Denloye '20 handed out three assists and Nick Osarenren '22 came up with three steals. Hamilton shot 87 percent (20-23) at the free-throw line while the Lions attempted just four shots at the charity stripe. The Continentals committed only 10 turnovers.

Penn State Behrend (23-5) had earned an automatic bid to the NCAA championship by winning the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament title. Justin Gorny posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Fischer dropped in 17 points and Andy Niland scored 10 and dished out seven assists. The Lions shot 54.7 percent from the field including 9 of 18 from 3-point range. Penn State Behrend entered the night shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc this season.

Gilmour gave Hamilton its first lead at 70-69 after he grabbed a defensive rebound and drove coast-to-coast for a layup with 1:36 left. The Lions turned the ball over on a 30-second shot clock violation on their next possession, but the Continentals gave it right back with 43 seconds remaining. Osarenren came up with a steal with 26 seconds to go and Penn State Behrend was forced to foul Tim Doyle '19 with 17 seconds left. Doyle calmly drained both free throws for a 72-69 advantage.

The teams traded turnovers and then Hamilton, which had three fouls to give, decided to use those fouls and force the Lions to run time off the clock before getting a shot off. Doyle committed the Continentals' sixth team foul of the second half with 10.2 seconds remaining when he grabbed Niland in the backcourt, but the official whistled for an intentional foul and gave Penn State Behrend two free throws and the ball.

Niland's first free throw hit the back of the rim and bounced off but he swished the second and pulled the Lions within two points. Penn State Behrend called its full timeout to set up a play and had two great chances to tie the score and send the game to overtime. Fischer took the inbounds pass in the backcourt and drove into the paint but his runner bounced off the rim. The rebound was batted to Dan Wanker for a shot from point-blank range and he banked it off the backboard and off the front of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.

The Lions held a 35-27 cushion at the break and quickly expanded it to their largest lead of the night of 11 points at 42-31 on a Malike Brinson layup less than two minutes into the second half. A basket in the paint by Fischer put Penn State Behrend up by 11 again at 44-33 with 17:27 to go.

Hamilton roared back to within a point thanks to a 12-2 run that featured six points by Hoffmann and a half-dozen by Gilmour. A Gilmour layup made it 46-45 with 13:00 left. The Lions' lead fluctuated between two and eight points for the next 11 minutes. A tip-in by Wanker gave Penn State Behrend a 69-64 advantage with 2:37 remaining.

The Continentals followed with an 8-0 spurt and took their first lead of the night. Hoffmann started the run with two free throws and Gilmour made two more with 2:00 to go. He put Hamilton ahead to stay on the Continentals' next possession. Hoffmann scored 18 of his 19 points in the second half and Gilmour added 16. Hamilton was 15 of 24 (62.5 percent) from the floor and a perfect 14-for-14 at the line during the final 20 minutes.

The Lions jumped out to an 8-0 lead on a Wanker layup and 3-pointers by Gorny and Brinson. The Continentals came all the back to tie the score at 14-14 (the only deadlock of the night) on a basket from close range by Groll with 7:41 left. Penn State Behrend scored the next five points and its lead moved between four and 10 points the rest of the half. Gorny and Fischer combined to score 19 points in the first half.