Fifth Straight Win Sets Up NCAA Tournament Date with Berry

The Emory men’s basketball team increased their winning streak to five after they defeated the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Yellowjackets 71-61 in both teams’ final regular season game Feb. 24. With this victory, the No. 7 Eagles finish the regular season with a 21-4 overall record and 12-2 in the University Athletic Association (UAA).

Freshman forward Matt Davet led the Eagles in scoring, shooting 6-9 and securing 16 points. The senior duo of guard Whit Rapp and center Christopher Avant rounded out Emory’s double figure-scorers with 12 points apiece.

“Winning 21 games overall, and 12 games in conference, is tough to do, and that’s something to celebrate,” Avant said. “We have grown a lot throughout the year, individually and as a team.”

Throughout the first half, the Eagles seemed to hold the upper hand. After only seven minutes of action, the Eagles held a 10-8 advantage. A quick 7-2 run led by junior guard Beau Bommarito pushed the Eagles’ lead to 17-10. The team held a 10-point edge with three minutes left in the first half, but a three-point shot by freshman guard Romin Williams and layups by Davet and Avant pushed the score to 38-24.

But the Eagles had to withstand a furious Yellowjacket rally. A layup by Avant gave the Eagles a 12-point lead with 16 minutes left. Nonetheless, the Yellowjackets blazed to a 12-1 run that left them with a mere one-point deficit. While a couple of buckets from Davet helped Emory to a 59-53 edge with under seven minutes in play, the Yellowjackets erased the Eagles’ margin, tying the game at 59 with four minutes remaining.

Despite the deadlock, a crucial final two minutes pushed the Eagles to victory. Emory scored the final nine points of the game, highlighted by a three-pointer from senior forward Adam Gigax and four high-pressure free throws by Davet and Rapp. The Eagles’ performance secured the team’s 12th win in the UAA.

“I’m proud of how we finished,” Rapp said. “We had a lot of contributions from multiple guys along the way, and we want to continue with that same drive heading into the postseason.”

After a triumphant end to the regular season, the Eagles have turned their focus to the next item on their agenda the NCAA Division III tournament.

“For us veterans, we are hungry to keep the season alive going into the national tournament,” Avant said. “We have made some great runs in the tournament the past several years but are looking to take it further than ever before.”

Rapp, who recently broke Emory’s all-time assist record, hopes to make the most of his final tournament campaign.

“It’s a new season now, and we will take it one game at a time,” Rapp said. “And hopefully in three weeks, we’ll have six more wins.”

Emory will host Berry College (Ga.) in the first round of the NCAA DIII tournament Friday, March 2. It will be the two teams’ second meeting this season: Emory came out on top in a high-scoring affair, 109-103, at Berry Nov. 21.

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