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ELIZABETHTOWN COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL
Etown Advances to Sweet 16 With 95-84 Win Over Alvernia in NCAA Division III Second Round Game, Seven Blue Jays Score in Double Figures
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. --- A near-capacity crowd turned out over Spring Break at Thompson Gymnasium to witness the first NCAA tournament game the Elizabethtown College men's basketball team had ever hosted, and the Blue Jays did not disappoint, outlasting Alvernia 95-84 in a come-from-behind victory.
Elizabethtown, which received a bye in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, advances to the Sweet Sixteen and improves to 26-2 overall with the win.
Alvernia's season concludes with a 22-6 overall record.
Elizabethtown managed to tie the game twice in the first half, first at 24-24 at 8:19, and at 26-26 at 7:47. On the strength of Ray Strickland's (Chester, PA/Chester) 12-point first half performance and pair of three pointers late in the first stanza, Alvernia carried a 45-39 lead into halftime.
Alvernia shot 17-for-31 (54.8%) in the first half, and the Crusaders went seven-for-13 (53.8%) from three-point range in the first half. Elizabethtown, by contrast, went 17-for-34 (50.0%) from the field and four-for-14 (28.6%) behind the arc in the first half. Etown also shot a dismal one-for-six from the free throw line prior to halftime.
By 15:59 remaining in the game, Alvernia held on to its lead and extended it to seven points, 52-45, on a layup by Brad Merriweather (Reading, PA/Reading). From then, Elizabethtown began to build momentum, and tied the game 58-58 at 11:48 on a three-pointer by Brian Loftus (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks West).
The Blue Jays took the lead for the first time in the game with 11:15 left to play when a layup by Jon English (Haddonfield, NJ/Haddon Township) gave Etown a 60-58 lead. Alvernia tied the game at 60-60 at 10:36 on a another Merriweather layup, but English struck back with a free throw 12 seconds later to give the Blue Jays a lead they would never relinquish.
Etown held a slim 84-79 lead with 1:52 to play following a layup by Alvernia's Byu-Deen Twyman (Sharon Hill, PA/Academy Park), but from there Elizabethtown sank 11 out of 12 free throw attempts as Alvernia committed six fouls in the final 1:40.
Alvernia committed 11 turnovers in the second half against seven for Elizabethtown. Alvernia's three-point shooting dropped to 12.5% (one-for-eight) in the second half, while Etown improved to 62.5% (five-for-eight) from three-point range and 84.0% (21-for-25) from the free throw line in the second half.
The Blue Jays had seven players score in double figures, the most who have hit ten points in a single game all season. Loftus and Bob Porambo (Bethlehem, PA/Liberty) led Etown with 17 points each, and Porambo led the team with nine rebounds. Loftus added eight assists to Elizabethtown's offense.
Chad Heller (New Holland, PA/Garden Spot) scored 15 points, all of them in the second half, for Elizabethtown. English added 13 points and pulled down six rebounds for Etown, and sophomore Ian Daecher (Lititz, PA/Warwick) came off the bench to score 12 points on five-for-seven shooting. Brian Marquette (Lebanon, PA/Cedar Crest) scored 10 points and sank two threes from off the bench, and point guard Rocky Parise (Harrisburg, PA/Bishop McDevitt) posted a double-double, scoring 10 points and dishing out 11 assists.
Strickland was Alvernia's leading scorer with 23 points. Tillman Sims (Reading, PA/Reading) led the Crusaders with 13 rebounds, and he scored 14 points. Merriweather and Twyman scored 12 points each for Alvernia, and Will Craig (Philadelphia, PA/West Catholic) had seven assists for the Crusaders.
Elizabethtown now advances to the sectional rounds of the NCAA Division III tournament, which will take place Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9. The other teams in Elizabethtown's section include defending national champion Catholic (26-2), which defeated Hampden-Sydney (23-6) 74-66 tonight, Clark (21-6), which defeated Staten Island (23-6) 101-72 tonight, and Cabrini (19-11), which defeated William Paterson (19-10) 47-43 tonight.
Etown will face Cabrini in its next game Friday, while Catholic will face Clark Friday. The winners of each of those games will play Saturday for the sectional championship and a spot in the Final Four. The site of next weekend's sectional tournament is to be determined Sunday, March 3.