SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Ithaca used a game-changing three-minute stretch in the second half to take control of the match and went on to an 89-77 win against Springfield in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Trailing 59-50 with approximately 12 minutes remaining in the second half, the Bombers went on a 15-point run to build a six-point lead and never trailed again. Ithaca stretched the lead to double figures in the closing minutes and went on to a 12-point victory. The momentum-changing run started with three free throws by Sean Rossi and two steals at the defensive end of the court. Frank Mitchell scored five points and Tom Sweeney had a couple of baskets during that stretch, which was punctuated by a three-point play from Travis Warech.
Warech led Ithaca with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the floor. He had a team-leading 15 rebounds as well. Rossi scored 19 points, with 10 of those coming at the free throw line. He had eight assists in the game. Mitchell scored 17 points and had 11 rebounds, and Andrei Oztemel scored 14 points with 12 of those coming on four converted 3-pointers.
The Bombers shot 54.7 percent from the field in the game and made 25 of 28 free throw attempts. Springfield was just 11-for-21 from the foul line and shot 45.6 percent. Ithaca held a 40-29 rebounding advantage.
The teams exchanged the lead through the first half. Neither team pulled away as Ithaca’s largest lead was five points and Springfield managed a four-point lead in the early going.
This is the 12th NCAA tournament appearance for the Bombers and the program’s fourth all-time win in NCAA history. The last time they advanced to the second round was in 1993.