F&M rolls on behind stout offense
Diplomats race by WCSU behind Gyokchyan's 34-point effort
LANCASTER, Pa. – Hayk Gyokchyan scored a career-high 34 points to lead No. 9 Franklin & Marshall to an 82-72 victory against Western Connecticut State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Diplomats will face Amherst on Friday in the round of 16 after Amherst defeated NYU 80-56. The trip will be the Diplomats 16th appearance in the sectionals.
Trailing by four points 68-64 with 8:01 remaining in the game, Gyokchyan scored six points in a 10-2 run that spanned over four minutes and put the Diplomats up four 74-70 with 4:11 left to play. Matt Porter put F&M up six before Gary Robinson hit a bucket to bring the Colonials back within four 76-72 at 2:06.
Then Gyokchyan took over again.
The junior took a Georgio Milligan feed for a bucket to put F&M up six, 78-72, and teamed up will Milligan again for a dunk that put the Mayser Center on its feet and gave F&M an 80-72 lead with 42 seconds left. Milligan was fouled on the Diplomats' next possession and connected on both his shots to ice the victory.
The Diplomats started out the game strong and went up 14-1 at the 15:54 mark. Western Connecticut came within nine before F&M went on 10-5 run to go up 28-14 with 9:32 remaining in the first half. The Colonials countered by outscoring the Diplomats 11-4 to come within seven at 32-25 at 6:09. The teams exchanged baskets during the next few minutes before Western Connecticut cut the deficit to six with 2:44 remaining to the intermission. F&M finished the half with five unanswered points and went into the break with a 47-36 edge.
Western Connecticut opened up the second half with an 8-4 run to come within 51-44 before F&M scored six consecutive points to take a 57-44 advantage at 15:26. The Colonials slowly chipped away and erased F&M's 13-point lead to tie the game at 61, midway through the half.
Milligan hit one of two from the stripe to put F&M back up one, 62-61, but DaQuan Brooks answered with two of his own from the line as the Colonials took their first lead, 63-62 at 9:15. Western Connecticut went up three on foul shots from Shawn Moblilo before Gyokchyan hit a layup to bring F&M within a point 65-64 with 8:19 remaining. Ryan Pelletier hit a trey at 8:01 to put the visitors up four which set up Gyokchyan's run.
Gyokchyan shot 14-for-21 from the floor, 6-for-9 from the stripe and collected nine boards. Milligan found himself in early foul trouble in both halves and was limited to just 18 minutes of action. The senior made the best of his time with 14 points and three assists. Morgan Lee and Jon Salandra both tallied eight points and Matt Porter finished with nine. Salandra pulled downed a team-high 11 boards for F&M.
After scoring 52 points the night before, Brooks was limited to 22 points as he faced the top defense in the country. Michael Kennedy scored 14 points for the Colonials and Mobilio finished with 10.