|Brendan Boken||Ethan Danzig||Justin Klingman||Marcus Thomas|
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Turns out University of Scranton men’s basketball coach Carl Danzig will have a relaxing weekend after all.
Behind a 23-point, 12-rebound effort from junior forward Brendan Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Loyola), 14 points from freshman guard Ethan Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights), and 12 from senior guard Justin Klingman (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights), the Royals punched their ticket to the NCAA Division III championships by defeating top-seeded Catholic University, 76-65, to win their second straight and sixth Landmark Conference title in the league’s eight-year history.
The Royals, who entered today’s game on the fence for an at-large bid had they lost, will now make their 26th NCAA tournament appearance in school history and eighth under Danzig.
Boken, the tournament’s most valuable player (MVP), scored 16 points in the second half on 6 of 8 shooting from the field after the Royals managed to open up a 37-35 halftime lead, despite the Cardinals shooting nearly 58 percent from the field. Scranton wasn’t bad either, connecting on 56 percent of its attempts.
Ethan Danzig also came through in the second half, burying back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Royals build up a 9-point advantage, with 13:36 remaining. Boken then sealed it with back-to-back lay-ups with five minutes remaining and junior guard/forward Marcus Thomas (Clarksburg, Md./Clarksburg), who finished with nine points and six rebounds, added a pair of free throws to give Scranton a 14-point cushion with 2:46 left.
Sophomore forward Corey Stanford (Harrison City, Pa./Penn Trafford) led the Cardinals, now 22-5, with 18 points and nine rebounds, junior guard Bryson Fonville (Greensboro, NC/Page) and freshman Jay Howard (Pennsauken, NJ/Paul VI-NJ) finished with 16 points and five rebounds apiece, and junior forward/center Austin Calling (South Windsor, Conn./East Catholic) had 11 points and eight rebounds. The Cardinals cooled down considerably in the second half, shooting less than 29 percent from the field to finish the game at 42.6 percent.
In a span of seven days, Catholic goes from a team looking at making history to one that will be sweating it out. They entered last Saturday’s regular-season finale at Scranton looking to become first team in Landmark history to go undefeated in conference play, only to drop a 67-53 decision. Now, they’ll have to wait until Monday to see if their resume is good enough to warrant an at-large bid to the NCAA field.
Boken’s ‘double-double’ was his sixth of the season and the 16th of his career. In the process, he moved into 21st place on the Royals’ all-time scoring list with 1274 points, moving ahead of Dan Loftus (1266, 1999-2003), Mark Beneski (1270, 1988-1992), and Randy Arnold (1272, 2004-2008) today.
Ethan Danzig has now scored in double figures in five of his last eight games and eight times overall this year. He picked up his older brother, senior guard Ross Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights/Blair Academy-NJ), who struggled through a 1-for-10 shooting effort but still managed to dish out a game-high seven assists while committing only one turnover in 38 minutes of action. The Royals also got a big lift from freshman point-guard Kevin Doolan (Basking Ridge, NJ/Ridge), who played 30 minutes and finished with eight points, two rebounds, an assist and a steal, and did not commit a turnover.
Scranton has now won 24 conference championships in men's basketball. The NCAA Division III championship field will be announced Monday.