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Local Sports

April 16, 2014

Champion caps Le Moyne career with run to NCAA Tourney

For Nate Champion reaching the NCAA Tournament was always a major goal at Division-II Le Moyne University.

Champion and the Dolphins reached that goal this season during his senior year.

Champion said that when he and 6-foot-11 big man Jim Janson entered Le Moyne together four years ago that the NCAA Tournament was always in their sights.

“When we came here they had just had one of their best teams and they didn’t get to play in the tournament. So our goal, myself and Jim Janson, was to make it to the NCAA Tournament. It didn’t matter how, just to get there,” Champion said. “To do something that they hadn’t done here since 1997 was special. It was Coach [Steve Evans’] first time too. It was something special knowing our senior year that we did that.”

Champion, a 6-3 point guard from Logansport, averaged 16.3 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game on the season. He shot 45.1 percent from the field, 37.4 percent from 3-point range and 86.1 percent from the foul line. He played 39 minutes per game.

The Dolphins went 17-12 on the season. They won nine of 12 games to end the regular season. They earned a third seed in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament.

They earned an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament and were awarded a No. 6 seed. But they were knocked off by No. 3 seed Saint Anselm 73-62 on March 15 in an NCAA East Regional game.

Champion had 17 points and five assists playing in his 100th and final game at Le Moyne

Saint Anselm was able to avenge a 76-74 regular-season loss.

“We matched up with a tough Saint Anselm team and they were a really good 3-point shooting team,” Champion said. “They averaged 11 3’s a game and they hit 11 in the first half against us. They caught fire. We hung in there and had a chance to tie it up with under a minute to go.

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