SALEM, Va. -- Amherst is heading back home with a trophy and
Andrew Olson scored 15 points and Brian Baskauskas added 14 to
lead Amherst to its first NCAA Division III title with an 80-67
victory over defending champion Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday
Amherst (30-2), which lost in the semifinals in two of the least
three years, led almost throughout and built its lead as high as 20
twice in the second half.
"There's a big difference between waking up Saturday morning
knowing you're playing in a consolation game and waking up knowing
you're playing for a championship," senior Dan Wheeler said.
"It's a lot easier to get fired up and get focused."
Wheeler added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Tim McLaughlin
and Kevin Hopkins each scored 12 points for the Lord Jeffs.
"We did an unbelievable job defensively," Amherst coach David
TonTon Balenga scored 19 points and Brandon Adair added 17 for
the Marlins (28-5), who were within 10 three times in the second
half, but could get no closer.
"I thought we were just out of sync," Marlins coach Dave
Macedo said. "We couldn't get in a rhythm at times."
The Lord Jeffs, who led 39-28 at halftime, were up 62-42 after a
tip-in by Baskauskas with 10:08 remaining. It was 68-48 with 7:28
to go before the Marlins made one last rally.
But unlike last year, when Balenga's shot with 2 seconds to play
against Wittenberg gave Virginia Wesleyan its first national title,
there were no late heroics this time.
"They were able to execute today," Balenga said. "They were
the better team."
Earlier Saturday, Tyler Nading scored 22 points and Sean Wallis
added 21 to lead Washington University to a 92-84 victory over
Wooster in the third-place game.