Montville’s Warech helps Ithaca to Sweet 16

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

The Ithaca College men’s basketball team got a tip-in basket by Eli Maravich  at the buzzer to defeat No. 18 Rochester 70-68 in an NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament game Saturday night at Rochester’s Louis Alexandra Palestra.

Former Montville standout Travis Warech scored 17 points and Sean Rossi of Sparta finished with 12 points. With the victory, the Bombers advance to the round of 16 for the first time in program history. It was the fifth win in a row for the Bombers (21-8), with four of those coming in the postseason. Ithaca advances to face No. 7 Middlebury in the Sweet 16 on March 16 at Middlebury, Vt. The Yellowjackets ended their season with a 22-5 record.

The game was tied 68-68 with one minute to play and Rochester missed a 3-point attempt that was rebounded by Maravich, who is a nephew of the late NBA legend Pete Maravich. A Bomber timeout set up the final possession, as the shot clock was off. Warech tried a turn-around jumper from the left wing with three seconds left that bounced off the rim twice, before Maravich cut in from the opposite side of the floor and tipped the ball over the front of the rim just in time.

The basket was Maravich’s first of the game but he contributed throughout the contest by defending Rochester’s John DiBartolomeo. He held the ECAC Upstate Player of the Year, who averages 23.4 points a game, to just two points and without a field goal.

warech 2

Former Montville standout Travis Warech played a big role in Saturday’s win. (Photo courtesy of Ithaca College)

Warech had the hot hand early for the Bombers, starting the game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the first two minutes of play. He had 11 points at halftime and finished with 17 points. He is averaging 22.3 points per game over Ithaca’s last three contests. Rossi had 12 points and nine assists in 40 minutes of play. He now has 950 career assists, extending his lead in NCAA Division III history in that category.

The thrilling game featured 17 lead changes and nine ties. Rochester’s largest lead was eight points at 58-50 with 11:02 remaining in the second half. The Bombers held the Yellowjackets to just 10 points over the last 11 minutes, and just three field goals in that span. Ithaca dug out of that deficit with back-to-back layups from Rossi and a pair of free throws from Tom Sweeney who finished with 22 points and six rebounds. From that point on, neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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