FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
'Phins Defense the Story Again in Regional Championship Game
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Senior forward Robert Jones III earned Most Outstanding Player honors as Le Moyne won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships East Regional title with a 75-59 victory over Bloomfield on Tuesday evening at Ted Grant Court.
With the win, the Dolphins advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in the program's history. As the fifth seed in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals, the Dolphins will take on fourth-seeded West Texas A&M on Tuesday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m. EDT/12:00 p.m. CDT at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Jones III, who averaged 14.3 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field and 16-of-17 from the foul line and 6.0 rebounds in the regional to earn MOP honors, finished the contest with 16 points, including 11 in the first half, and six rebounds. Senior guard Tanner Hyland celebrated his 23rd birthday by scoring a game-high 17 points, including 11 in the first half, in 20 minutes off the bench to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Redshirt senior guard Tyquan Rolon was the third Dolphin in double figures with 11 points, including a team-high eight in the second half.
Keith Washington, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the Bears in the setback with 16 points, including 10 in the second half, five rebounds and four assists. Nick Davidson, another all-tournament team selection, recorded 15 points, including 12 in the second half, in his final collegiate game. Ignacio Diez tallied 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds to close out his college career, while Safee Abdus-Sabur scored 10 first-half points.
After Bloomfield scored the first two points of the game, Le Moyne's first deficit since midway through the first half of the first round game against Jefferson on Saturday, the Dolphins scored eight straight points to take the lead, which they would not relinquish. Jones III started the scoring with a three-pointer, senior forward Daniel Kaigler made a fast-break lay-up and then senior guard Anthony Richards buried a three-pointer.
Following a Washington three-pointer, Jones III had a dunk off an alley-oop from Rolon and a lay-up to give the Dolphins a 12-5 lead with 15:09 left.
After the teams split the next 20 points over five minutes, Abdus-Sabur drilled a three-pointer, but the Dolphins countered with six straight points for their first double-digit lead of the night. Jones III made two free throws, Rolon converted one foul shot and then Hyland drained his 200th career three-pointer, the fifth-most in the program's history.
The Bears, who won the region in 2011, recorded the next seven points to get within three with 6:58 left. Matt Lajeunesse made a lay-up, Abdus-Sabur hit a three-pointer and then Diez made the score 28-25 with a jumper.
Le Moyne, which had the lead (113:29) or was tied (5:16) for 118:45 of the 120 minutes in the regional, put together a 7-0 run of its own to regain its 10-point lead. Senior forward Isaiah Eisendorf made a lay-up, Hyland converted two free throws, Kaigler followed with a free throw and Jones III capped the streak with a lay-up for a 35-25 advantage with 3:38 left in the half.
After Diez got the Bears within six in the final minute, Hyland knocked down a three-pointer with 21 seconds left to give the Dolphins a 40-31 lead at halftime.
The Dolphins, who dropped their previous two regional championship game appearances (1959 and 1964), opened the second half with four of the first six points to take a pair of 11-point leads. The second time was off a lay-up by senior guard Russell Sangster, who became the fourth Dolphin in the program's history to start 100 career games and moved into a tie for second for the most games played with his 117th career appearance.
Out of the under-16 media timeout, Bloomfield rattled off 12 of the next 15 points to get within 47-45 with 12:07 to play. Rakwan Kelly started the run with a jumper, Washington scored six straight points and Davidson followed with two free throws and a jumper.
The Dolphins extended their lead to seven (54-47) with 9:24 left on a Hyland three-pointer, but the Bears scored six straight points around four missed shots and three turnovers by the Dolphins to get within a point with 5:10 to play. Washington made a lay-up and Davidson followed with a fast-break lay-up and a jumper from the left baseline to make it 54-53.
After Bloomfield called timeout on Davidson's jumper, the Dolphins rattled off 10 consecutive points to regain control of the game. Rolon started the streak with a three-pointer, junior guard C.J. Asuncion-Byrd made two free throws, Hyland drilled his fifth three-pointer of the game from the left corner and then Sangster made a fast-break lay-up for a 64-53 lead with 3:13 remaining.
The Bears got within nine on two occasions over the next 50 seconds, but the Dolphins closed the game out with nine of the last 11 points, including the final six over the last 1:34. Rolon made three free throws in the span, Eisendorf and Asuncion-Byrd each went 2-for-2 from the line and Jones III ended the game's scoring with a fast-break dunk off a 3-on-1 feed by Sangster.
- Information for this release provided by the athletic communications staff at Le Moyne
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