LANCASTER, Pa. – Georgio Milligan saved his best performance of the season for the biggest game of the year with a season-high 30 points to lead No. 9 Franklin & Marshall to an 80-71 victory over No. 2 Amherst in the NCAA Sweet 16. The Diplomats will face No. 3 MIT, an 83-67 winner over Staten Island, in the Elite Eight Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Mayser Center. It will be F&M's 10th appearance in the Round of Eight.
Milligan scored eight of those points in the final 2:41 of the game after Amherst came within three, 68-65. The senior hit the backend of his two shots from the stripe and nailed a jumper seconds later to put the Diplomats up six, 71-65, at 2:10. The Lord Jeffs scored on their next possession before Matt Porter tallied three straight to put the Diplomats up seven with under a minute to play.
David Waller hit one of two from the line to bring Amherst within six, but Milligan answered with two from the line to put F&M up eight, 76-68 with 37 seconds remaining in the game. Taylor Barrise hit a trey on the Lord Jeffs' next trip down the court, setting up one of the most exciting plays of the game. Knowing Amherst was going to try and foul, F&M brought everyone up close to the baseline for the inbound pass. Milligan slipped behind the defense, and Gyokchyan fired a pass three-quarters down the court that hit Milligan in stride, which set up a traditional three-point play. Milligan hit the foul shot with 17 seconds remaining, which put F&M up eight, 79-71, before Porter hit the backend of two shots for the final point.
Both teams traded buckets over the opening minutes of the game with Amherst coming out with an 11-10 lead at the 16-minute mark. The Diplomats answered with a 7-0 run to go up six, 17-11, at 14:19. F&M reached a double-digit lead, 24-14, midway through the half before the Lord Jeffs battled back to come within four, 28-24 at 7:59. F&M rallied off four unanswered points to go up eight, but Amherst responded with a 6-2 run for a 34-30 score at 2:30. The Lord Jeffs came within two, 34-32, before Jon Salandra hit two from the line to put F&M up four, 36-32, with 1:18 remaining in the half. F&M missed on its next trip down the court and David Kalema hit a three as time expired to send the game into the break with F&M ahead 36-35.
Amherst tied the game at 36 with under a minute played in the second half before F&M rallied off four unanswered points, but Aaron Toomey hit a three at 18:03 to bring Amherst within one, 40-39. The Diplomats answered with a 5-0 run to lead 45-39 and held onto a four-point edge, 49-45 at 13:26. The Diplomats put together an 8-0 run over the next four minutes to go up 12, 57-45, with 9:13 remaining in the game. Amherst answered with a 9-2 run to come within five, 59-54, at 7:29.
The teams exchanged points over the next three minutes with F&M holding onto a 68-63 lead at 4:17. Both teams had trouble scoring during the next two minutes and Toomey hit two from the line to bring Amherst with three, 68-65, at 2:41, setting up Milligan's strong finish.
Milligan went 11-for-16 from the floor and added seven assists for F&M. Ed Early scored 13 on 6-for-8 shooting while Porter and Salandra both finished with 10 points apiece. Salandra added a team-high eight boards and Morgan Lee finished with eight.
Toomey scored a team-high 21 points for the Lord Jeffs while no other Amherst player reached double figures.
F&M shot 62% from the floor while its defense limited Amherst to just 37% shooting.
FRANKLIN & MARSHALL 80, AMHERST 71
Aaron Toomey 6-20 8-8 21; Jeff Holmes 2-3 5-6 9; David Waller 3-10 2-4 9; David Kalema 2-7 4-4 9; Peter Kaasila 4-8 0-0 8; Taylor Barrise 2-5 2-4 7; Allen Williamson 2-4 0-4 4; Willy Workman 2-6 0-0 4. Totals 23-63 21-30 71.
FRANKLIN & MARSHALL (28-2)
Georgio Milligan 11-16 8-10 30; Ed Early 6-8 1-3 13; Matt Porter 4-6 2-4 10; Jon Salandra 4-6 2-4 10; Morgan Lee 3-6 2-2 8; Hayk Gyokchyan 3-8 1-3 7; Brandon Beckford 1-2 0-0 2; Kevin Henry 0-0 0-0 0; Max Brewer 0-0 0-2 0; Xavier Braham 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-52 16-28 80.
Amherst....................... 35 36 - 71
Franklin & Marshall........... 36 44 - 80
3-point goals--Amherst 4-21 (David Waller 1-5; David Kalema 1-3; Aaron Toomey 1-10; Taylor Barrise 1-3), Franklin & Marshall 0-1 (; Hayk Gyokchyan 0-1).
Fouled out--Amherst-None, Franklin & Marshall-None.
Rebounds—Amherst 36 (Jeff Holmes 9), Franklin & Marshall 33 (Jon Salandra 8).
Assists--Amherst 7 (Aaron Toomey 3), Franklin & Marshall 19 (Georgio Milligan 7).
Total fouls--Amherst 25, Franklin & Marshall 19.
Technical fouls--Amherst-None, Franklin & Marshall- None