PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Adam DeChristopher (Brockton, MA) scored 37 points Friday night at Foley Gymnasium to lead Plymouth State College to a 96-85 victory over Amherst College in the semi-finals of the ECAC Division III New England Men's Basketball Tournament.
The Panthers, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, advance to Sunday's championship game (2:00 p.m.) at Foley Gym against Williams College. The second-seeded Ephs advanced Friday night with a 78-66 triumph over Colby College.
DeChristopher connected on 11-of-21 field goal attempts, including five-of-11 three-point shots. His fifth three-pointer was the 274th of his career, breaking the school record previously held by Moses Jean-Pierre, who drained 273 from 1990-94. The 37 points was a career best at home for DeChristopher, and three points shy of his all-time career high.
Plymouth State also got strong contributions from junior Shannon Gallagher (Plymouth, NH) and sophomore Tony Martinez (Barnstead, NH), who combined to make 11 of their 19 shots. Gallagher finished with season highs with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the Panther bench, while Martinez added 11 points and six boards.
The Lord Jeffs were led by junior Hugh Quattlebaum (Andover, MA), who hit 7-of-13 shots and finished with 20 points. Senior Chris Ingraham (Tuczon, AZ) added 15 points, junior Chris Smith (Swarthmore, PA) chipped in with 12, and sophomore Erik Kelly (Staples, MN) provided 10 off the bench for Amherst, who got only three minutes from starting center Josh Anish (Huntingdon Valley, PA) before he departed with an injury.
Amherst led most of the first half, holding 12-point margins on two occasions, but PSC battled back and trailed by only four at the half, 47-43. The Lord Jeffs went back ahead by 11 points early in the second half (55-44), but PSC went on a 14-2 run, with six points from DeChristopher and four apiece from Martinez and senior Todd Steffanides (Fitchburg, MA), to give the Panthers their first lead (58-57) since 2-0.
It was still a one-point game (78-77 PSC) with 4:35 to play, but DeChristopher canned a pair of three-pointers and two free throws and Gallagher converted four free throws to put the Panthers ahead 90-80 with a minute to play. PSC seniors Eric McQueen (Lawrence, MA) and Jamal Pettiford-Jones (Portsmouth, NH) threw down dunks in the final minute to clinch the win for PSC.
PSC improved to 22-7 overall, increasing its single-season school record for victories, while Amherst finishes its season at 16-9. The Panthers, who have never won a post-season tournament, are making their first appearance in the ECAC New England Championship game since losing in the 1994 final. Williams won its only ECAC title in 1987.
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