Senior Eli Maravich tipped in a basket just beating the buzzer to lead the Ithaca College men’s basketball team to a 70-68 win over the University of Rochester in the NCAA Division III Tournament 2nd Round on Saturday night at the Louis Alexander Palestra.
The game winner was Maravich’s only bucket of the night, sending the Bombers (21-8) to their first ever Sweet 16 in the history of the program. The win continued a streak of road wins for Ithaca, making it five straight away from home dating back to the last regular season game of the year.
The Yellowjackets finish the season with a 22-5 record and thus brings to an end the storied career of UR senior John DiBartolomeo. The senior All-American was held to just two points, his lowest scoring output since being held scoreless in 23 minutes late in his freshman season. “John’s a great player,” said Ithaca coach Jim Mullins, “we wanted to make the other guys beat us.” DiBartolomeo ends his career third in scoring at Rochester (1,779), 2nd in assists (533), steals (201) and free throws (520 made).
“The senior class was the backbone of this program when I took over,” said Rochester head coach Luke Flockerzi. “I am so proud of everything they have done and what they have accomplished.”
Leading the Yellowjackets on Saturday was sophomore Tyler Seidman who had 17 points who made a game high five 3-pointers. Senior Rob Reid also had a solid day, finishing off his Yellowjacket career with a 16 point, six rebound day. Junior Nate Vernon added 16 points including three 3’s and sophomore Tyler Sankes added 10 points and four rebounds.
Ithaca was paced by junior Tom Sweeney who had a season high 22 points and grabbed six boards. He was joined in double figure scoring by senior Travis Warech who added 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior Sean Rossi had 12 points and 9 assists while Frank Mitchell chipped in 12 points as well.
Rochester built its biggest lead of the game to eight points with just over 11 minutes to go in the game after a Reid layup in the lane. Ithaca would then battle back with an 8-1 run over the next three minutes to cut the Yellowjacket lead to just one.
Another Reid layup pushed the lead back up to three but Rossi hit two free throws and a layup with 6:14 to go to give Ithaca its first lead since 2:30 into the second half. Rochester’s Kevin Sheehy would answer with a trey to put the home team back up by two, but Ithaca again would answer with four straight points to go up with just 2:25 to play
UR’s Vernon then hit a layup with 2:07 left to tie the game back up at 66. Mitchell gave the Bombers a lead with 1:52 to play, but Reid then came down and made two clutch free throws to tie the game back up with 1:33 remaining.
The teams then traded missed three pointers, the second by UR’s Seidman to give Ithaca a shot with :29 seconds on the clock to draw up a play. Maravich pulled down the missed shot to give Ithaca the ball for the last possession.
That set up the Bombers for Maravich’s heroics off the missed Warech jumper at the buzzer. Said the Ithaca senior “I went to an up and under shot, my bread and butter all season long.” “Thankfully Eli was there for the tip-in off my miss.”
Said Flockerzi on the last second ending “Kent [Coyne] played terrific defense on the final shot, we just came up a half second short from going to overtime.”
Said DiBartolomeo after the loss, “It was just one play here or there that could have been the difference.”
The team’s started off the game at a break neck pace, with each team well in the first 20 minutes. UR was at 52% in the first half while Ithaca was at 45%. The first half featured six ties and 12 lead changes, all in the first 10 minutes. At the break Rochester held a 42-39 edge.
For the game, the Yellowjackets finished shooting 47.3% (26-55) while the Bombers were at 46.3% (25-54). UR held a slim advantage on the glass, outrebounding the Bombers 32-28.
Ithaca continues its tournament run by traveling to Middlebury College in Vermont next Saturday for a Sweet 16 matchup.
“It’s something to look forward to for next year,” said Vernon of his team’s balanced effort. “I wish we could have just made one more play to keep our season going.”