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Tuesday, December 5, 2001

Etown Rolls Past Defending Conference Champion Widener, 95-83, in Season's First Commonwealth Conference Game; Blue Jays Now 6-1

CHESTER, Pa. --- Elizabethtown sent a stark message Wednesday night to the Commonwealth Conference and the Mid-Atlantic Region that this year's incarnation of the Blue Jays is for real, running away with a 95-83 road win over defending conference champion Widener. Widener was the only team to beat Etown twice last year, including an 81-74 win in the conference championship game which locked the Blue Jays out of an NCAA tournament berth.

Elizabethtown, which improves to 6-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference with the win, vaulted out to a 52-32 lead by halftime. Widener, which was picked to repeat as Commonwealth champion over Elizabethtown in the preseason conference coaches' poll, narrowed the gap in the final minutes of the game after the Blue Jays inserted a lineup of mainly freshmen. Widener falls to 3-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference with the loss.

The Blue Jays shot 73.1% (19-for-26) from the field in the first half and 61.0% (36-for-59) for the entire game.
The Blue Jays had five players score in double digits, including two with over 20 points. Leading them all was junior center Jon English (Haddonfield, NJ/Haddon Township) with 23 points and eight rebounds. English shot 11-for-14 from the field.

Brian Loftus (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks West) scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds for Elizabethtown. Loftus went three-for-four from behind the three-point line. Chad Heller (New Holland, PA/Garden Spot) scored 14 points, and back-to-back Middle Atlantic Conferences' weekly basketball honor roll member Bob Porambo (Bethlehem, PA/Liberty) added 13 points.

Also, senior guard Brian Marquette (Lebanon, PA/Cedar Crest) came off the bench to score 10 points and lead the Blue Jays with seven assists while shooting five-for-seven from the field. The Blue Jays totaled 20 assists while Widener had 10.

Fran Grandieri and reserve Matt Sheaffer led Widener with 16 points each. Chaz Williamson and Tim Whalen each added 12 points to the Pioneers' effort, and Bilial McAfee scored 11 points from off the bench.

Etown returns to action Saturday, December 8, playing host to conference rival Susquehanna University. Game time is 3:00 p.m. in Thompson Gymnasium.

View the box score.