Allen Williamson had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Amherst to a 52-44 victory over North Central (Ill.) on Saturday night in Salem, Va., to the advance to the NCAA Division 3 championship game.
The Lord Jeffs (29-2), the Division 3 national champions in 2007, won their 23d straight game to advance to the title game against Mary Hardin-Baylor at Philips Arena in Atlanta on April 7. Mary Hardin-Baylor beat top-ranked St. Thomas (Minn.), 74-67.
Amherst won despite missing its first 13 shots to start the second half and shooting 31.3 percent (15 of 48).
The Lord Jeffs put together a late 7-2 run, using two baskets from Williamson, to take a 46-40 lead with 4:04 left. Williamson scored the Lord Jeffs’ last 4 points, including a two-handed dunk with 35 seconds left.
North Central (28-4) got 20 points from Landon Gamble.
In the early semifinal, James Allen scored 19 points and the Crusaders (27-5) overcame a 12-point deficit to snap St. Thomas’s 14-game winning streak. Will DeBerg led St. Thomas (30-2) with 21 points.
Temple’s Wyatt OK
Temple star guard Khalif Wyatt said Saturday that his injured left thumb should not be a problem when the Owls play top-seeded Indiana in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.
The Atlantic 10’s player of the year got hurt in the second half of Friday’s win over North Carolina State. He came out briefly to get his thumb taped and scored 31 points as the Owls advanced to face the Hoosiers. Wyatt said Saturday that X-rays were negative.
Owls coach Fran Dunphy expects Wyatt to be a ‘‘little tender’’ against Indiana.
Dunphy said the senior didn’t have any trouble with his thumb during practice Saturday.
Pitt extends Dixon
Pittsburgh and coach Jamie Dixon reached an agreement on a 10-year contract that could keep him with the Panthers well into the next decade. The deal comes after speculation surfaced that USC was targeting Dixon, a Southern California native, for its open job. The Panthers went 24-9 this season, their final year in the Big East before heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference, but were blown out by Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Dixon is 262-86 in 10 years at Pitt . . . Ben Howland brought his UCLA team to the NCAA Tournament with a target on his back that only got bigger after an uninspired 20-point loss that sent the Bruins packing with an early-round exit. Minnesota rolled past UCLA, 83-63, Friday night in Austin, Texas. The blowout will be tough for Howland to explain to UCLA fans dissatisfied that a coach who led them to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08 hasn’t brought his team out of the first weekend of the tournament since 2009.