SWARTHMORE, Pa.—The best season in Swarthmore College Men's Basketball's history concluded on Saturday night in the NCAA Quarterfinals, further than the team has ever been before. Swarthmore's second excursion into the NCAA Tournament came to an end following a 74-62 loss at home to Springfield College.
Springfield (22-5), a Cinderella story in this year's bracket after getting an at-large bid to the dance, had survived two earlier rounds with two-point victories to get to this point. The Springfield Pride overcame a seven-point deficit to earn the trip to this weekend's Final Four in Salem, Virginia.
In the first three games of the NCAA Tournament, Swarthmore rolled past its competition, out-scoring opponents by a 26.3 points per game. Part of that success came from Swarthmore's ability to get to the basket. The Garnet had been averaging 40.7 points per game in the paint during the first three tournament games, but only recorded 20 points inside against Springfield. With interior baskets hard to come by, Swarthmore's field goal percentage hovered at 41 percent through the first half (as did Springfield). However, in the second half, the Garnet only connected on 8-of-26 field goal attempts, bringing their overall game total down to 36.5 percent, their second-worst output this season.
Another anomaly in Swarthmore's game on Saturday was the rebound margin; for just the second time this season, Swarthmore was out-rebounded by its opponent. Springfield collected 39 rebounds to Swarthmore's 33.
Swarthmore's 3-point shooting gave them an advantage in the first half. Senior Zack Yonda and drained three 3-pointers in the first and freshman Conor Harkins added two in the period as Swarthmore went 7-for-16 from deep. Springfield went just 3-for-10 from deep in the first half, but the tables turned in the second half. Swarthmore went 3-for-13 from beyond the arc then, and Springfield went 6-for-10.
Four players scored in double digits for Swarthmore in a distributed effort. Cam Wiley scored a team-high 13 points. Yonda finished with 12 points. Zac O'Dell added 10 points and eight defensive rebounds. Harkins also finished with 10.
Nate Shafer added a team-high 10 rebounds off the bench.
Springfield's Jake Ross, the 2017 National Rookie of the Year, played all 40 minutes and posted 23 points and 12 rebounds. Heath Post added 18 points and 15 rebounds.
In first-half action, the lead was hard to hold onto until, with seven minutes to go, a pair of threes in the left corner by Yonda and an old-fashioned three-point play on his and-one, a personal 9-0 run for the senior, gave Swarthmore a 31-22 lead.
Later with 2:55 to go, Yonda hit another trey and Swarthmore's lead extended to 11 points.
Springfield pulled within seven by halftime and then climbed completely out of the hole with a 14-2 run to start the second half.
Swarthmore hung within two possessions and finally re-gained the lead on a 3-pointer from Ryan Ingram with 7:47 to play.
However, Springfield soon followed with an 8-0 run and the Garnet ran out of time to make up the deficit.
Swarthmore wraps up the 2017-18 season with a 22-6 record and the deepest postseason run in program history. Seniors Zack Yonda, Robbie Walsh and Jim Lammers will graduate as the winningest class in program history and have helped establish a winning culture at Swarthmore.