March 13, 2009

Courtesy of Franklin & Marshall

LANCASTER, Pa. - And then there were eight. Franklin & Marshall is one of eight teams still playing for an NCAA Championship thanks to a 67-61 win over Salem State in the men's basketball sectional round on Friday night.

The Diplomats (25-5) are making their sixth trip to the round of eight and will face DeSales tomorrow at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs recorded a 67-59 win over UMass-Dartmouth in the first sectional game.

F&M went 5-for-16 from the free throw line up until 30 seconds remaining in the game, when the Diplomats connected on five of six shots from the charity stripe to hold onto the lead that got them another game at the Mayer Center.

With a three-point lead at 62-59, James McNally hit his second pair of free throws of the night to make it 64-59 with 25 seconds showing on the clock. The Vikings (23-7) returned the favor with Stevie Celestin going 2-for-2 from the line to get within three again.

Georgio Milligan made the back end of two from the line and the F&M defense made a stop on Salem State's next trip down the court. Mike Baker, who is 4-for-5 from the free-throw line in the final minute of play, drew a foul and made the ensuing free throws to seal the victory.

With the scored tied at 46-all, F&M used a 12-3 run to take its largest lead of the second half. Milligan scored four points and McNally tallied three points, before Clay Scovill and Anthony Brooks completed the spurt with a basket each at the 4:58 mark.

A pair of triples by Salem State made it a three-point game at 60-57 with two minutes to play. The defense stopped the Vikings on two attempts, before Milligan drained a quick pull-up jumper near the foul line to make it 62-57. Celestin, who finished with a game-high 19 points, drove in for the layup at 62-59 with 46 seconds left.

The visitors led most of the first half, holding a six-point edge at the 11:34 mark but the Diplomas used a late run to take a four-point lead at intermission.

Scovill paced F&M with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Brooks added 13 points. Danny Selig scored all of his nine points in the first half.