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Gray leads Anchormen in 78-74 loss to Amherst In NCAA tournament

Senior guard Antone Gray scored 22 points but RIC's season came to an end in a 78-74 loss to Amherst on March 11 in the sectional semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Div. III Men's Basketball Tournament played at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.

The Anchormen (21-8) see a 10-game win streak end as RIC's bid for the Elite 8 comes up short for the second straight season. The Anchormen were one of only five programs in the nation to participate in the NCAA Tournament the past five seasons.

The Anchormen, who trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half, went on a 17-5 run to take a 65-64 lead with 3:21 remaining, only to see Amherst (25-3) senior guard Conor Meehan drain a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to help lead the Lord Jeffs to the win.

Gray added three rebounds, three assists and two steals, while junior forward Mason Choice contributed 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Junior center Mike Akinrola chipped in with 18 points and four boards.

"Our two main keys coming in were that we had to guard them and we had to get the ball back," RIC head coach Bob Walsh said afterwards. "They’re top 10 in field goal percentage and we’re up there in defense. I thought we won the first battle and lost the second. They’re a great rebounding team and played with a toughness and edge when the ball came off the glass that I haven’t seen them play with before. I think that’s the biggest reason we lost the game."

RIC finished the game shooting 46 percent (26-for-56) from the field, 17 percent (3-for-18) from three-point land and 90 percent (19-for-21) from the field. Amherst shot 37 percent (25-for-68) from the field, 38 percent (11-for-29) from downtown and 77 percent (17-for-22) from the charity stripe.

The Lord Jeffs dominated the glass, 50-28, in the win. Toomey equaled Gray with 22 points and sank a game-high five three-point shots. Meehan posted 20 points, paced by three longballs, to go along with six rebounds and six assists. Waller added 13 points and nine rebounds.

"Our teams believe they’re going to win until somebody tells them they can’t play anymore so giving in was never an option," Walsh said. "When we were up one late in the game there was no doubt in my mind we were going to win the game and they [the Anchormen] knew it too. Toomey made some great plays down the stretch. He’s a special player."

It was the final game for RIC's four seniors: Gray, Lee, forward Darius Debnam and Nick Manson. "The senior class has built a dynasty," Walsh said. "I can’t put into words what these guys have done for me."