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Emory men's basketball advances to NCAA Round of 16

After a thrilling 83-82 win on Saturday, Emory men’s basketball team earned a spot in the Round of 16 for the NCAA D-III Championships. The Eagles face off Friday against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Emory senior Christopher Avant led five double-figure scorers with a season-high 22 points in helping the Emory men's basketball team to a thrilling 83-82 home victory over the LeTourneau University on Saturday evening in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

The No. 6-ranked Eagles won for the seventh straight time and raised their overall record to 23-4 following the win, while LeTourneau closed out its season at 24-5.  

Emory now advances to this weekend's Round of 16 of the NCAA D-III Championships for the fourth time in five years, where it will square off against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Friday at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

The Emory vs. UW-Oshkosh game tips at 5:30 pm (CST).  Following that contest, host and No. 9-ranked Augustana will take on John Carroll. The two winners will collide on Saturday in an Elite 8 contest with the winner advancing to the NCAA D-III Championships, March 16-17, in Salem, Virginia.

UW-Oshkosh, a member of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, earned an at-large bid to the NCAAs. To reach sectional play, the Titans went on the road to Springfield, Ohio, and downed Marietta 74-67 before knocking off 3rd-ranked Wittenberg, 68-60, on the Tigers' home court. The Titans own an overall mark of 22-7.

Thrilling victory

Emory hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA D-III tournament last weekend, defeating Berry by a score of 91-72 on Friday, March 2, before defeating LeTourneau by one point on Saturday.

In that game, Avant ended the evening nine-of-17 from the floor, including a pair of triples, and converted a pair of charity tosses in registering his 17th double-figure scoring performance of the season.

Junior Gebereal Baitey tallied 15 points, sinking seven field goals in 11 opportunities, while senior Adam Gigax contributed 14 points.  First-year student Romin Williams and junior Beau Bommarito chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.  Senior guard Whit Rapp dished out 13 assists, his fourth double-figure outing of the campaign.

The game came down to the final seconds. A layup by Avant on a great dish from Rapp pushed Emory to an 83-79 lead with 34 seconds left, but LeTourneau responded with a step-back three-pointer to cut the lead to one. 

On Emory's ensuing possession, Rapp was fouled 13 seconds remaining, sending him to the line. On his first attempt from the stripe, a lane violation was called on Emory, giving the ball to the LeTourneau with a chance to win the game. But the team missed a three-pointer, with Rapp coming away with his ninth rebound of the contest, tying Avant for team honors.

Emory closed out the game 47.9 percent (35 of 73) from the floor compared to LETU's 43.1 percent.  The Yellow Jackets drained 12-of-32 from beyond the arc while the Eagles connected on seven of their 27 tries.  LeTourneau finished with a 39-38 edge in rebounding.

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