Gutsy Second-Half Effort Lifts Royals Past Alvernia, 57-54, In Title Game Of The PNC Bank/Radisson Invitational

The Royals defeated Alvernia, 57-54, on Sunday to win their fifth straight and seventh overall PNC Bank/Radisson Invitational championship.
The Royals defeated Alvernia, 57-54, on Sunday to win their fifth straight and seventh overall PNC Bank/Radisson Invitational championship.
Justin Klingman Brendan Boken John Vitkus
Ethan Danzig Marcus Thomas  

Photo gallery courtsey of Dan Ceccacci

With two starters out with injuries and a third buckled to the bench with foul trouble, The University of Scranton men's basketball team found itself facing its first tough test of the season. The Royals answered the challenge, overcoming a seven-point second-half deficit to defeat Alvernia, 57-54, in Sunday's championship game of the PNC Bank/Radisson Invitational in the Long Center.

Senior guard Justin Klingman (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) was named tournament MVP after scoring a team-high 16 points. Junior forward Brendan Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Loyola) earned all-tournament honors with 11 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists, and sophomore forward John Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) added 10 points and five rebounds.

The title was the fifth straight for the Royals in the PNC Bank/Radisson Invitational, and their seventh overall.

Scranton (2-0) led for most of the first half, but settled for a 27-27 tie at halftime. After a back-and-forth first few minutes of the second half, Alvernia (1-1) went on an 11-2 run to take a 42-35 lead with 9:40 to go. But just when the Crusaders appeared poised to throw the knockout punch, Scranton answered with a string of clutch plays.

The Royals used a 14-2 run to regain the lead at 49-44 with 4:30 to go. The run was capped by a jumper from Vitkus, Klingman had five points and freshman guard Ethan Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) added a 3-pointer.

But Alvernia didn't back down, overcoming a long Klingman 3-pointer at the three-minute mark to draw even two minutes later, 54-54, on a jumper by senior forward Harrison Deyo (Phoenixville, Pa./Phoenixville), who was an all-tournament selection.

Scranton responded by calmly running its offense and eventually got the ball to Boken on the right block, and his turnaround half-hook from six feet was true, giving the Royals a 56-54 lead with 30 seconds to play.

Alvernia held for one shot, but a driving floater by junior guard Charles Cooper (Parkesburg, Pa./Octorara Area) was off the mark and Boken won the battle for the rebound and was fouled. He made one of two from the line with half a second remaining to cement the victory.

The Royals finished 24-for-54 (44.4 percent) from the field, including 5-for-18 from 3-point range. Klingman finished the afternoon 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. Scranton was also 4-for-6 from the free throw line, won the rebounding battle, 32-23, and committed just eight turnovers.

Danzig finished with five points, two rebounds and two steals off the bench, and junior forward Marcus Thomas (Clarksburg, Md./Clarksburg) added four points and four assists off the bench.

Alvernia was 18-for-42 (42.9 percent), including 4-for-14 from 3-point range. The Crusaders hit 14 of 21 (66.7 percent) from the free throw line and committed 10 turnovers.

Deyo led the Crusaders with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and senior guard Lamont Clark (Parkesburg, Pa./Octorara Area) added 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Scranton returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 19, when the Royals travel to Dallas, Pa. to take on Misericordia at 7 p.m.


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