Rochester topples Elms 81-70
Yellowjackets' return to postseason with First Round win
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Rochester, playing its first postseason game in three years, defeated Elms 81-70, in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the Ben Light Gymnasium on the campus of Ithaca. They will play the winner of the Ithaca-MIT game tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
Elms struck first, as they scored the first five points of the game, and went on an 8-2 run in the first three and a half minutes of the game.
However, Rochester answered in a big way. A Chris Dende three with 14:19 to play cut the Elms lead to 12-11. Thirty seconds later, Nate Novosel knocked down a jumper to give Rochester their first lead at 13-12. Dende and Novosel shared for the Rochester lead in both points and rebounds in the first half, with 12 and five respectively.
Four minutes later, it was Dende again, as his three opened up a 20-14 lead with 10:30 to go in the first half. When all was said and done, Rochester put together a 21-5 run, capped off by a Dan Shapiro trey with just under eight minutes to play in the half to put Rochester up 27-17.
"Balance has been our biggest strength this season," said Flockerzi on the run. "The ability to score in a variety of ways really helped our run in the first half."
The latter part of the first half saw more Rochester dominance. Novosel was fouled on a successful layup attempt. After converting the free throw attempt, Rochester was up 30-19 with 5:51 to go. Back-to-back three pointers by DiBartolomeo and Mike Labanowski put Rochester up 39-23 with 2:40 to go.
Rochester took a 45-34 lead into halftime, thanks in no small part to the Yellowjacket front court, as they gave Rochester a 26-8 advantage in the rebounding category.
The beginning of the second half saw more of the Rochester dominance that was present in the first half. DiBartolomeo showcased the talents that made him UAA Player of the Year, as went on a 7-0 run by himself over the first four minutes of the half, as Rochester held a 52-38 lead with 17:27 to go. DiBartolomeo was the game’s leading scorer for the Yellowjackets, with 23 points.
Despite tonight's game being DiBartolomeo's first in the NCAA tournament, Flockerzi wasn't worried about his point guard.
"John's an absolute competitor. He's brought his best game all season, and he put forth a very strong effort tonight."
The Blazers wouldn’t go quietly, as they put together a 9-0 run. A layup by David McDaniel with 14:45 cut Rochester’s lead to 52-43. Cecil Avant took a layup the length of the court with 13:16 left to make the score 52-45. Elms’ defense aided the run, as Juan Alario blocked a Dende three with 12:45 left. Under a minute later, Avant made a three with 12:20 left to reduce the Rochester lead to 52-48.
Ultimately, it would the closest the Blazers would get, as Rochester stopped the bleeding. DiBartolomeo was fouled on a successful layup attempt with 11:15 to go. He made the free throw to convert the three-point play and give Rochester a 58-50. Dende then followed with a three at the 10:22 mark to give Rochester a 61-52 lead.
The Blazers had a final burst, as they brought the lead down to nine points twice in the final three minutes. However, A Nate Vernon three pointer with 1:40 to go put Rochester up 78-66 to clinch a spot in tomorrow night’s game.