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ELIZABETHTOWN COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL
Rocky Parise Sinks Key Trey, Bob Porambo Scores 24, as Etown Defeats Susquehanna, 80-77, in First Round of Commonwealth Conference Playoffs
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. --- Until the final minute, one could have said that Etown point guard Rocky Parise (Harrisburg, PA/Bishop McDevitt) was having an off night in the Blue Jays' first round Commonwealth Conference playoff game against Susquehanna. Parise, who is fifth in the nation with 6.7 assists per game, had just four assists, two points and no steals until, with 59 seconds to go, he stole the ball from Susquehanna's Chris Zimmerman (Coal Township, PA/Shamokin). Susquehanna, which was leading 77-76 at the time in its improbable upset bid, pressured the rest of Etown's offense while leaving Parise, who was 0-for-7 from three-point range at that point, wide open. Parise responded by sinking a three-pointer with 39 seconds to go that proved to be the anvil that broke the camel's back for Susquehanna. Etown went on to win the game 80-77, with the final point scored on a foul shot by none other than Parise with nine seconds left.
With the win, top-seeded Elizabethtown advances to host the Commonwealth Conference championship game at home Saturday, February 23 against second-seeded and defending conference champion Widener, which defeated Lebanon Valley in the night's other playoff game 77-61. The Blue Jays improve to 24-2 overall with the win, while fourth-seeded Susquehanna sees its season end with a 14-12 overall mark.
Susquehanna carried a surprising 39-37 lead into halftime, and the Blue Jays did not regain the lead until Bob Porambo (Bethlehem, PA/Liberty) who led Elizabethtown with 24 points and nine rebounds, hit a layup with 13:09 remaining in the second half to take a 52-50 lead.
Etown fell behind again at 10: 39 when a Zigmas Kaknevicius (Silute, Lithuania/Long Island Lutheran, NY) jumper gave the Crusaders a 56-54 lead. Etown again found itself on top with 6:42 to go when a Brian Loftus (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks West) three-pointer made the score 63-62. A Zimmerman jumper at 4:25 gave Susquehanna the lead again at 71-70.
A Porambo jumper at 2:05 caused the lead to change hands again, 76-75 in favor of the Blue Jays. Kaknevicius' layup at 1:17 gave Susquehanna its final lead of the game, 77-76, heading into the final minute when Parise took center stage.
Besides Porambo, other Etown players with big offensive nights included Loftus, who totaled 19 points and hit five out of seven three-point attempts, and Brian Marquette (Lebanon, PA/Cedar Crest), who came off the bench to score 13 points in 18 minutes on five-for-eight shooting.
Elizabethtown will host Widener in the 2002 Commonwealth Conference game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for senior citizens, $2.00 for students, and free for children under six. The winner of the conference championship receives an automatic NCAA Division III tournament bid. In last year's championship game, Widener defeated Etown 81-74 at Widener.