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ELIZABETHTOWN COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL
Etown Wins Conference Title For First Time Since 1979, Clinches First NCAA Tournament Bid Since 1993, With 85-73 Victory Over Widener in Commonwealth Championship Game
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. --- With an 85-73 home win over Widener in the Commonwealth Conference championship game Saturday night, Elizabethtown won its first conference title since capturing the old MAC North championship in 1979, and just its third conference championship ever. By winning their conference, the Blue Jays also clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, making this season Etown's first trip to the "Big Dance" since 1993 and only the program's fourth-ever NCAA appearance.
With the win, the Blue Jays will bring a 25-2 overall record into the NCAA Tournament. Widener, which along with Franklin and Marshall was one of just two teams to defeat Etown this year, concluded its season with a 19-8 overall mark with the loss.
The game was a highly physical one with a final total of 45 fouls, including 23 for Widener and 22 for Elizabethtown, and Widener capitalized on its advantage in size early, rattling off a 13-2 lead in the first 4:23. From there, the Blue Jays battled back and cut Widener's lead to 27-26 by halftime.
Elizabethtown took its first lead 51 seconds into the second half when a pair of free throws by Chad Heller (New Holland, PA/Garden Spot) made the score 28-27. Widener bounced back and took a 45-40 lead on a Chaz Williamson (Philadelphia, PA/Mastbaum) three-pointer at 14:21. Etown went ahead to stay at 9:52 when a jumper by Brian Marquette (Lebanon, PA/Cedar Crest) gave the Blue Jays a 49-48 lead. From then, Etown went up by as many as 15 points three times.
Bob Porambo (Bethlehem, PA/Liberty) led Elizabethtown with 22 points on seven-for-13 shooting from the field and a perfect six-for-six performance from the free throw line. Junior center Jon English (Haddonfield, NJ/Haddon Township) added 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Heller scored 14 points, led Etown with 12 rebounds, and had five assists. Marquette came off the bench to score 10 points in 11 minutes, and Rocky Parise (Harrisburg, PA/Bishop McDevitt) had seven assists.
Mike Siuchta (Royersford, PA/Spring Ford) led Widener with 19 points, and Tim Whalen (Line Lexington, PA/Archbishop Wood) added 13 points. Bilal McAfee (Philadelphia, PA/Abraham Lincoln) scored 10 points off the bench for the Pioneers.
Elizabethtown will learn whom, when, and where it will play next when the NCAA Division III tournament bracket is announced Sunday night.