|Logan Bailey||Matthew Mancuso|
SELINSGROVE - Junior Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) had a team-high 20 points, but it wasn't enough, as host and top-seeded Susquehanna used a second half scoring flurry to pull away from the third-seeded University of Scranton men's basketball team, 86-69, in the 2020 Landmark Conference Championship game on Saturday night.
With the defeat, the Royals dropped to 19-8 overall, while Susquehanna improved to 20-7 and captured their first Landmark title in program history. The River Hawks also secured the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament with the victory.
The first eight minutes of action on Saturday night saw a tight game, as Scranton was able to open a 15-11 lead on Susquehanna with under 12 minutes to go in the first half. But, the River Hawks punched back, as they went on a 20-4 run over an eight-minute span to open up a 31-19 lead on the Royals with 4:47 to go in the first half.
To end the half, however, the Royals countered, going on a 10-0 run to slice the Susquehanna lead down to two points (31-29) with 1:51 left. But, the River Hawks ended the first half strong, outscoring the Royals, 5-3, in the final minute and a half to take a 36-32 lead into intermission.
Out of the halftime break, Susquehanna increased their lead to five (42-37), but the lead did not last long, as the Royals grabbed their first lead since early in the opening frame at 43-42 with 17:23 left after a made three-pointer by sophomore Jack Brockett (Shamong, N.J./Seneca).
Unfortunately for Scranton, however, this would be the final time they had the lead the rest of the game, as Susquehanna quickly grabbed the lead back, then went up, 56-48, on Scranton with 13 minutes to go.
Scranton did cut the Susquehanna lead down to seven points with under 10 minutes left in regulation (63-56), but this would be the closest the Royals would come to the River Hawks' lead the rest of the game, as they opened an insurmountable 75-60 lead with four minutes to go on Scranton. From there, Susquehanna coasted down the stretch to win by 17 over the Royals to take their first Landmark Conference title in program history (the River Hawks joined the conference in 2007-08).
Overall, Bailey led the Royals in a losing effort, scoring at least 20 points in a game for the seventh time on the year. Shooting 8-of-12 from the floor, he also had four assists and two blocks in the defeat.
Elsewhere, senior Matthew Mancuso (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) once again had a double-double, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. For the year, Mancuso scored in double-figures in every game but one and posted 15 double-doubles, doing so in the last four games of the year for Scranton.
Overall, Scranton ended up shooting 51.2 percent from the floor in the defeat, 54.5 percent alone in the second half.
Susquehanna was led in the victory by Lukas Yurasits, who had a game-high 27 points to lead four players to score in double-figures. It was also a strong night for the River Hawks on defense, as they forced 24 Scranton turnovers (Susquehanna committed just seven turnovers).
Scranton will now hope to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, as the full field will be announced on Monday at 12:30 p.m., though the Royals are likely considered longshots for a bid as they were not ranked in the latest NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Poll released this past Wednesday.