AMHERST, Mass. – Aaron Toomey poured in a game-high 25 points to lead Amherst to a decisive 89-72 victory against Plattsburgh State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship on Saturday at LeFrak Gymnasium.
Down by as much as 26 in the first half, the Cardinals reeled off a 19-6 run during the final 5:01 of the frame to pull within striking distance. Holding onto a 57-47 margin a little more than five minutes into the second stanza, Amherst rattled off a 15-2 stretch during a span of 3:57 to blow open the game.
With the victory, Amherst (26-2) punched its third consecutive ticket to the NCAA third round (10th overall). Extending its win streak to 20 games, the Jeffs advance to face WPI/Randolph-Macon in next weekend’s sectional semifinal.
Hitting 7 of 15 field goal attempts and 6 of 12 3-pointers, Toomey added seven rebounds and four assists. Shooting 7-for-11, Allen Williamson added 16 points, 11 boards and a career-best five helpers. Willy Workman added 11 points and nine rebounds, while David Kalema provided a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting in just 20 minutes.
Ezra Hodgson paced the Cardinals with 14 points, while Shavar Fields and Edward Correa each chipped in with 13. Jordan Moody finished with 11 points and four steals, while Reggie Williams was the only other Plattsburgh player in double figures with 10.
Driving toward the baseline, Tom Killian dished it to a cutting Williamson for an early jam. Rejecting Williams’ dunk attempt on the other end, Williamson started an Amherst break that ended in a Toomey pull-up 3. Trailing 5-0, Hodgson buried a triple from the right corner before Moody drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to put Plattsburgh on top.
A pair of Peter Kaasila layups — bookending two Moody free throws — kick-started a 17-3 Amherst run in a span of 5:11 before Fields momentarily slowed the surging Jeffs with a jumper inside of the 11-minute mark. Correa pulled the Cardinals back within nine at 10:20, but eight unanswered Amherst points capped by a Toomey trey from the left side made it 32-15.
Up 19 with less than seven minutes to play in the first, Kalema hit the Jeffs’ sixth triple of the half before a Ben Pollack fast-break layup coupled with a Williamson jumper stretched the cushion to 26. Battling back, Plattsburgh later trimmed the deficit to 15 on a Fields three-point play, before a quick outlet after a missed free throw led to a Kalik Parker 3 at the buzzer that made it 50-37 at the intermission.
Still down 13 with almost five minutes gone in the second half, Hodgson knocked down a trey to cut it to 57-47, but Killian answered with a fall-away triple of his own following a media timeout to put the Purple and White back up 13. Cleaning up a Williamson misfire, Workman banked in a putback before later making 1 of 2 free throws to stretch it to 63-47.
Keeping pace, Hodgson knocked down a jumper from the elbow at 12:53 but Toomey buried two consecutive 3s from the top of the key to once again put Amherst up 20. With the Cardinals as close as 14 after a Williams jumper, Kalema passed up a 3-pointer before driving down the lane and throwing it down with his right hand, sparking an 8-3 Jeffs spurt that made it 87-66 with just 3:13 to play.
Holding a decisive 49-28 advantage on the glass, Amherst outscored Plattsburgh 22-3 in second-chance points and 36-20 in the paint. Shooting 49.2 percent (32-for-65) from the floor and 50.0 percent (13-for-26) from 3-point range, the Jeffs showed little rust after an almost two-week layoff following the NESCAC championship.