WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The University of Scranton men's basketball team has a history of memorable NCAA Tournament victories, including some thrillers in recent years. On Friday night against Oswego State in the first round, the Royals added to that list.
Scranton overcame a 19-point second half deficit to defeat Oswego State, 82-77, in overtime at Williams College behind 26 points from senior center John Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac). The win advances the Royals to the second round against Williams on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Junior guard Ethan Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) finished the night with 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his first career double-double. Junior forward Drew Schankweiler (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg) had 14 points and six rebounds, and junior guard Chris McCullough (Harborfields, N.Y./Greenlawn) had 12 points in the victory.
The Royals (22-6) trailed at halftime, 35-22, after Oswego State (21-7) finished the half on a 14-0 run. The Lakers then came out of the locker room and scored seven of the first eight points to take a 42-23 lead with 18:20 to play. All together, it was a 21-1 run by Oswego State.
But, Scranton was not to be denied, scoring eight of the next 10 to creep back into contention at 44-31. An 8-2 run midway through the second half brought the Royals within 55-50 with 9:06 left, and the game was on.
Oswego State's lead fluctuated between one and seven for nearly seven more minutes with Scranton failing to get over the final hump and take a lead. But key baskets by Vitkus and junior guard Kevin Doolan (Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge) kept the Lakers from pulling away, and when Vitkus scored inside with 3:28 to play, Scranton trailed by just two, 66-64.
The Royals then came up with a pair of defensive stops sandwiched around a missed shot of their own, and Danzig finally made Oswego State pay, burying a 3-pointer to give Scranton its first lead of the night, 67-66, with 2:15 to play.
Scranton got another stop and Danzig buried two free throws, but the Lakers answered with two of their own to get back within one, 69-68, with 1:33 left. Vitkus than made one of two at the line and Oswego State senior guard Brian Sortino (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport) knotted the score at 70 with a jump shot with 47 seconds left.
After the Royals missed inside, Oswego State had a shot to win it, but Sortino came up empty at the buzzer to force overtime.
There, it was all Scranton after the first two minutes when each team managed only two points. Danzig hit a jump shot and Vitkus buried two free throws for a four-point lead, but Sortino got free for a jumper – the last of his game-high 27 points – to cut Scranton's lead to 76-74 with 1:30 left.
Then, Doolan made a play reminiscent of his driving layup that helped seal a Landmark Conference semifinal win over Catholic nine days earlier. With the shot clock winding down, he drove down the left side of the lane and banked in a runner for a 78-74 lead with 1:01 left. The shot seemed to rattle Oswego State as Sortino missed a rushed jumper at the other end.
Vitkus eventually hit two free throws and Danzig added one of his own for an 81-74 lead. A Lakers 3-pointer cut Scranton's lead to four at 81-77 with five second left, and Vitkus hit one of two at the line with two seconds left for the final margin.
Vitkus finished with 20 points after halftime on 6-for-8 shooting from the field after scoring just six points and committing three fouls in the first half. He played the final seven minutes of regulation and all of overtime with four fouls.
Danzig buried three 3-pointers on the night and now has 79 on the season, one shy of matching the school's single-season record of 80, set by Zach Ashworth in 2010-11.
Scranton shot 49.1 percent (27-for-55) from the field, including 5-for-12 from 3-point range. The Royals committed just 10 turnovers and made 23 of 35 free throws (65.7 percent).
Oswego State shot 41.2 percent (28-for-68) from the field, including 6-for-19 from 3-point range. The Lakers hit 15 of 21 free throws (71.4 percent) and held a 41-37 rebounding edge.
It's the 38th victory in NCAA Tournament play in Royals history and the seventh under head coach Carl Danzig. In 2012, the Royals overcame an 18-point deficit with just over eight minutes to play in a 70-67 overtime victory against Messiah in the first round. A week later, the Royals stunned Middlebury on their home court, 58-55, on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Travis Farrell.
Friday night's victory was no less thrilling. The Royals will have a chance to stun another New England Small College Athletic Conference school on its home court when they face Williams in Saturday's second round at 7 p.m. The Ephs defeated Becker, 91-63, in Friday night's other first-round game in Williamstown, Mass.
Newspaper Box Score
Oswego St. vs Scranton
3/3/17 5:30 p.m. at Williamstown, MA
At Williamstown, MA
SCRANTON 82, OSWEGO ST. 77
OSWEGO ST. (21-7)
Brian Sortino 8-20 8-10 27; Keith Tyson 8-17 0-0 17; Jamir Ferebee 4-9 5-7 13; Ian Schupp 5-16 0-0 12; Mykelle Krecko 3-6 2-2 8; Brandan Gartland 0-0 0-0 0; Vic Clervil 0-0 0-2 0; Josh Ivey 0-0 0-0 0; Tyler Pierre 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-68 15-21 77.
John Vitkus 9-14 8-11 26; Ethan Danzig 6-11 3-4 18; Drew Schankweiler 3-8 8-10 14; Chris McCullough 4-9 2-2 12; Kevin Doolan 4-9 0-2 8; Matthew Mancuso 1-1 2-6 4; Kyle DeVerna 0-2 0-0 0; Mitch Cross 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-55 23-35 82.
Oswego St..................... 35 35 7 - 77
Scranton...................... 22 48 12 - 82
3-point goals--Oswego St. 6-19 (Brian Sortino 3-7; Ian Schupp 2-6; Keith Tyson 1-4; Jamir Ferebee 0-2), Scranton 5-12 (Ethan Danzig 3-4; Chris McCullough 2-6; Kevin Doolan 0-1; Mitch Cross 0-1). Fouled out—Oswego St.-Mykelle Krecko; Tyler Pierre, Scranton-None. Rebounds--Oswego St. 41 (Mykelle Krecko 17), Scranton 37 (Ethan Danzig 13). Assists--Oswego St. 5 (Brian Sortino 2), Scranton 8 (Kevin Doolan 4). Total fouls--Oswego St. 25, Scranton 22. Technical fouls--Oswego St.-None, Scranton-None. A-451