|Brendan Boken||Marcus Thomas||John Vitkus|
SCRANTON, Pa.—Susquehanna University just put a crimp into The University of Scranton men’s basketball team’s postseason plans Wednesday evening at the Long Center.
Needing a win to keep pace with Catholic University in the battle for the top seed, the Royals fell behind by 15 points at intermission and never fully recovered in dropping a 74-60 decision.
Behind a 24-point performance from sophomore guard Steven Weidlich (Watchung, NJ/Watchung Hills) and 16 from junior guard Brandon Hedley (Silver Spring, Md./Salisbury Preparatory), the Crusaders shot nearly 56 percent from the 3-point arc in the first half to set the tone and post their first win over the Royals at the Long Center since January 7, 2007.
The Crusaders, who also locked up a Landmark Conference tournament berth, also received 12 points and 11 rebounds from junior guard/forward Josh Miller (Strasburg, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) and 12 points and five rebounds from senior guard Matt McGugan (Silver Spring, Md./Blake). Susquehanna is now 16-6 overall and 9-4 in the conference.
Scranton, which shot only 28 percent from the field in the first half and just 39 percent for the game, received 17 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Brendan Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Loyola) and career-high tying 15-and 10-point efforts from junior guard/forward Marcus Thomas (Clarksburg, Md./Clarksburg) and sophomore center John Vitkus (Mahopac, NY/Mahopac), respectively
The loss, which snapped the Royals’ 17-game home winning streak dating back to last year, drops Scranton to 17-5 overall and 11-2 in the conference with three games remaining.
The Crusaders never took their foot off the gas from the get-go, scoring a number of baskets early by beating the Royals down the court. Defensively, their decision to double-team Boken in the post disrupted the Royal offense and Scranton’s inability to hit from the perimeter just added to its problems.
The Royals were still within striking distance, however, when Boken hit a lay-up to cut the margin to 12 with 4:57 left, but Miller sealed it for the Crusaders with back-to-back baskets to give Susquehanna a 16-point cushion with 2:37 remaining. For the game, the Crusaders shot over 45 percent from the field and knocked down all 17 of their free throw attempts.
Prior to tip-off, Boken and senior guards Ross Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights/Blair Academy-NJ) and Justin Klingman (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) were presented the 62nd annual John ‘Les’ Dickman award as the Royals’ most valuable player (MVP). In addition, Danzig becomes the first player in Scranton history to win this award three times.
The Royals will open a two-game Landmark Conference road trip this Saturday, February 14, against Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, beginning at 7:00 p.m.