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Here's how Men's Basketball got to Friday's Sweet Sixteen matchup...
Host-institution Nazareth flipped a nine-point halftime deficit to a 12-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the game, but the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team staged another late-game comeback to take a 78-68 victory and hush the home faithful.
The Corsairs (26-4) have now won the second-most games in program history and advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008-09 and sixth time ever.
Four members of the team for UMass Dartmouth scored in double figures. Graduate student Jake Ashworth matched the game high with 22 points, sinking five 3-pointers in the process and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Junior Jackson Zancan canned three big triples on his way to 15 points and nine rebounds, while senior Marcus Azor tallied 13 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and five steals, and senior Sean Leahy notched 13 points as well. Senior Adam Seablom did a bit of everything with six points, six boards and five assists.
The best performance for the Golden Flyers came from senior Jonathan Park, who finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Senior Zach Stenglein led the team with 22 points with six assists and five boards, while graduate student Stephen Gabel went for 20 points.
UMass Dartmouth was on fire to start the game. After going down 4-0, an Azor layup and Leahy and-1 put the Corsairs on top. Ashworth then kept it rolling with a pair of threes and a basket inside. Seablom hit two shots and 5th-year senior Jarron Santos drilled a triple to cap off a 26-7 run to make it a 26-11 advantage with 9:13 left in the first.
Another and-1 from Leahy, buckets inside from Zancan and sophomores Isaac Percy and Mike Eurquhart, along with a 3-ball by Ashworth maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first half. Nazareth got a layup to go in the final second to cut its deficit to 38-29 as the teams went into the locker rooms.
The Golden Flyers came soaring into the second, opening the half on a 15-1 run to go up, 44-39, with 16:04 on the clock. The frontcourt duo of Leahy and Zancan each hit a triple to take back the lead, 45-44. The teams then traded the lead three times until Nazareth pulled away to go up, 65-54, with 5:46 to go.
That's when it got fun. Six-straight points from Ashworth, including a four-point play cut it to a five-point game. A pair of free throws by Zancan made the deficit four points, Ashworth hit a triple, and a steal by Azor and dish to Leahy gave the Cardiac Corsairs the lead for good, 67-66, with 2:43 remaining. A jumper by Seablom, a corner three from Zancan, and an Azor layup sealed the deal in the final minute, as the Corsairs made their free throws to advance to the Sweet 16.
UMass Dartmouth will play at Randolph-Macon, who is the number-one team in the d3hoops.com poll, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The game will feature the top-two point guards in the nation in Azor and the Yellow Jackets' Buzz Anthony.