|Brendan Boken||Tommy Morgan|
|Ross Danzig||Michael Barr|
Photo gallery (courtesy of Emma Black)
Photo gallery (courtesy of Dan Ceccacci)
Postgame ceremony (courtesy of Dan Ceccacci)
The University of Scranton men's basketball team built a reputation as one of the top shooting teams in the Landmark Conference and in the country all season long. On Saturday, the Royals captured a conference championship with their defense.
Scranton shutdown a powerful Susquehanna offense and championship most valuable player Brendan Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Loyola) had 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks as the Royals rolled to a 71-56 victory in the Long Center on Saturday.
The championship is the fifth Landmark Conference title in seven years for the Royals, and the 22nd conference title overall in school history.
The victory also gives Scranton an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, which begins on Friday, March 7, at sites to be determined. The field will be announced on Monday, March 3, at 12:30 p.m. It's the Royals' 25th NCAA appearance all-time and seventh under head coach Carl Danzig.
Senior guard Tommy Morgan (Greenlawn, N.Y./Chaminade) had 16 points and seven rebounds, and junior guard Ross Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights/Blair Academy, N.J.) added 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocks as Scranton (24-3) won its 14th straight game. It's the Royals' longest win streak since they won 26 in a row in 1992-93.
Boken scored 19 first-half points as Scranton took control at the break, 38-25. The Royals held Susquehanna (17-10) to just 8-for-31 (25.8 percent) from the field, including 0-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. On offense, Scranton hit 16 of 32 (50 percent) from the field, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
Scranton pushed the lead to 18 early in the second half before the Crusaders went on a 13-4 run to cut the deficit to single digits at 51-42 with 8:35 to play. But the Royals answered with a 12-2 run to put the game away, a spurt that was punctuated by a 3-pointer from senior guard Michael Barr (North Wales, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) that gave Scranton a 63-44 lead with 4:16 left.
Barr finished with nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, and sophomore forward Marcus Thomas (Clarksburg, Md./Clarksburg) added two points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 21 minutes off the bench.
The Royals finished the game 26-for-56 (46.4 percent) from the field, including 6-for-18 (33 percent) from 3-point range. They won the rebounding battle, 49-29 and overcame 16 turnovers by blocking eight shots.
Susquehanna was led by sophomore guard Brandon Hedley (Silver Spring, Md./Salisbury Prep), who had 23 points on 9-for-25 from the field. Senior center Harley Sellinger (Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain) added 14 points and 12 rebounds, including 12 and 10 in the first half.
The Crusaders finished the game shooting 30.5 percent (18-for-59), including 4-for-17 (23.5 percent) from beyond the arc. They committed just eight turnovers.
Scranton will find out its first-round NCAA opponent and site when the field is announced on Monday, March 3, at 12:30 p.m.