Ithaca knocked down 17 3-pointers in an attempt to knock out the nation’s #1 team in Division 3 basketball, but it didn’t work. Swarthmore won on the foul line making 19 of 27 attempts versus only 7 for 10 for Ithaca. Ithaca put up a whopping 84 shots and a lot of them weren’t pretty as only 27 found their way into the basket. Swarthmore was a lot more efficient needing only 67 attempts to connect on their 29 baskets for a 86-78 victory.
So much for the stats because this game was a heated barnburner. Swarthmore struck first but Ithaca came right back to take the early lead with a 3-pointer. With Swarthmore up 27-21 at the 10:39 mark, Ithaca rattled off 3 straight 3s to go up by 8 points. After all the dust settled, the score was tied at 44 at the half.
The second half began with both teams trading baskets until Swarthmore stretched out to an 8-point lead with 6:07 left to play. Right about here things got a little testy. Teams went up and down the court a few times without a basket but there was a lot of testosterone being flung around as pushing, shoving, floor burns, elbows, scrums, tie ups with both guys tugging for the ball well after the whistle, and some great fan jeering and taunting made for exciting basketball down the stretch.
With Swarthmore up 75-67 with about 4 minutes to play, Ithaca made a pair of 3-pointers and a foul shot to Swarthmore’s single basket bringing Ithaca within 3 points at the 1:35 mark. From there, Swarthmore tossed in 5-of-8 free throws (or is it 9 when there’s a lane violation?) before Ryan Ingram slammed the door shut with a deep 3-pointer. Ithaca could only come up with a single foul shot and a 3-pointer in that same stretch which resulted in a long sad bus ride home for the upstate New Yorkers.
Smooth Vinny DeAngelo led Swarthmore in scoring with 21 points along with 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and a blocked shot for good measure. Rounding out the scoring was George Visconti’s 15, Nate Shafer’s 14, Conor Harkins 13, and some fire power from the bench with Ryan Ingram’s 11. The guy who stole the highlight reel was Nate ‘Blue Collar’ Shafer with his 20 rebounds, 4 timely block shots, and 2 steals. Zac O’Dell snatched 13 rebounds to go along with his 8 points to add to the balanced play by Swarthmore.
With their pair of wins this weekend, Swarthmore heads to the round-of-16 in the Division 3 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament where they face Whitworth University out of Spokane, Washington on Friday at a place to be determined.