ROCHESTER, N.Y.— After a sizzling first half of shooting, one might have thought the University of Rochester men’s basketball team would cool off a bit.
Rochester used a 19-1 second-half run to open a 27-point lead on its way to an 85-68 win over Farmingdale State before a raucous crowd in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament at the Palestra.
Rochester (21-5) will meet No. 13 Amherst (24-4) in Saturday’s second round at 7 p.m. Farmingdale State (20-8) had its win streak end at 10 games.
"We had an opponent that was just on fire,” said Farmingdale Stat coach Brendan Twomey. “We turned it over 11 times in the first half and only trailed by eight. We were fortunate to be close enough to try and make a second-half comeback. But Rochester never cooled off. It was some impressive shooting.”
Rochester, sharing the ball throughout the first half, shot a wicked 81.8 percent from three-point land, making 9 of 11 attempts. Forward Patrick Benka drilled four of his five three-point attempts and had 12 points and Ryan Clamage drained all three of his three-point attempts and finished the half with 13 points as the Yellowjackets shot 56.7 from the field.
“We knew we needed stops,” Twomey said. “Rochester did a really nice job of finding the open man and moving the ball for open looks. And they shot incredibly well from the outside.”
Rochester scored the first eight points of the game and hit their first three threes for an 11-2 lead. But Farmingdale clawed its way back, getting within 16-14 on Matt Graham's layup.
The Rams used an 13-4 run, keyed by George Riefenstahl's block, and took its only lead of the game when he buried a three-pointer for a 29-27 advantage with 7:44 left in the first half.
“I’m proud of the effort and my guys,” Twomey said. “But every time we made a run at them, Rochester answered with some big threes.”
Farmingdale State's lead was short-lived. Rochester continued its torrid shooting from beyond the arc when Benka hit a three for a 30-29 lead. And that three started a 19-3 run for a 46-33 lead. Farmingdale State closed o within 46-38 on Graham 'sthree-pointer as time expired. Graham had a game-high 20 points.
Rochester opened the second half with consecutive threes to extend the lead to 43-30 and never was threatened. Clamage finished with 19 points and Benka hit 6 of 8 threes for 18 points. The Yellowjackets hit 16 of 27 three-pointers.
“Tough to beat that kind of shooting,” Twomey said.