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ELIZABETHTOWN COLLEGE MEN'S BASKETBALL
Etown Wins Third Consecutive Commonwealth Conference Championship With 61-54 Road Win over Widener in Title Game, Blue Jays Earn NCAA Tournament Berth for Third Consecutive Year
CHESTER, Pa. --- With a 61-54 road victory over top-seeded Widener University in the Commonwealth Conference championship game Saturday, Elizabethtown College, which was the third seed in this year's conference men's basketball tournament, captured its third consecutive conference title, and with it, its third straight automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
A pair of Kyle Conrad (Shillington, PA/Governor Mifflin) three pointers at 19:51 and 18:31 gave Etown a 6-0 lead, and a Jon Connor (Hershey, PA/Hershey) trey at 18:02 sent Etown ahead 9-0. Bilal McAfee made a layup 15:50, giving Widener its first points of the game and cutting the Blue Jay lead to 9-2. At 14:38, Etown went up by 11 points as Ian Daecher (Lititz, PA/Warwick) made a layup on a fast break to take a 13-2 lead. A Darryl Brown (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin) layup at 13:32 gave Etown a 15-2 lead and forced Widener's first timeout of the game.
Essien Ford hit a pair of free throws for Widener at 10:05 to cut the Etown lead to less than ten, 15-6. Ben Tannous (Bethlehem, PA/Bethlehem Catholic) hit a three-pointer for Etown at 9:17 to give the Blue Jays an18-6 lead, and Ford followed with a three and a free throw at 9:03 to cut the lead to 18-10. By 7:33, Etown's lead was reduced to 18-13. Malcolm Thomas hit a jumper for Widener at 6:50 to cut the lead to 18-15. Ford hit a jumper at 6:11, and Etown's lead was down to one point, 18-17.
An Andrew Flynn (Chalfont, PA/Central Bucks West) layup at 5:40 ended Widener's 15-3 run and boosted Etown's lead to 20-17. Ford struck with a jumper at 5:05 to cut the lead to 20-19. Conrad was fouled at 4:40 and made both of his free throws to give Etown a 22-19 lead. Terry Smith made a jumper for Widener at 2:37 to cut the Etown lead to 22-21. Flynn made a layup at 1:49 to push Etown's advantage to 24-21. With 5.6 seconds left in the first half, Dan Keane (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin East) was fouled, and he made both of his free throws, but an Etown player stepped into the lane before the second shot was released, giving Etown a 25-21 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
Widener made eight of 32 shots (25.0%) from the field in the first half, while Etown made nine of 22 attempts (40.9%) from the field, including a four-for-six performance from three point range. Widener shot one-for-11 (9.1%) from behind the arc in the first half.
Smith made a layup 30 seconds into the second half to cut Etown's lead to 25-23, and Daecher followed with a hook shot at 19:10 to give Etown a four point lead. McAfee hit a three-pointer at 18:02 to cut the Etown lead to 27-26. Conrad hit a put-back jumper at 17:14 to put Etown ahead 29-26. McAfee tied the game for the first time at 16:02 with a three-pointer, locking the score at 29-29. McAfee gave Widener a 30-29 lead at 15:09 when he converted one of two free throws.
Smith made a layup at 13:33 to give Widener a 32-29 advantage. Conrad tied the game, 32-32 with a three-pointer for Etown at 12:40. Brian Schreiber (Mechanicsburg, PA/East Pennsboro) gave Etown a 34-32 lead with 11:08 left in the game on a layup. Kris Clarkson tied the game with a put-back layup for Widener at 10:39. Flynn made a put-back layup for Etown at 8:44 to give the Blue Jays a 36-34 lead, and a Keane layup at 8:13 extended the Blue Jays' advantage to 38-34. Keane drew a foul at 6:49 and made one of his free throws to put Etown up 39-34. Jim Barron (Tamaqua, PA/Tamaqua) made a steal and fast break layup at 6:10 to put Etown ahead 41-34. By 5:00 to go in the game, Etown held a 43-38 lead.
Following a Daecher jumper at 4:43, Conrad was fouled with 4:08 left and made one of his free throws to give Etown a 46-38 advantage. Greg Adams (Lebanon, PA/Lebanon) gave Etown its first double-digit lead since early in the game on a layup at 3:37 as Etown went up 48-38. A Keane layup at 2:47 gave Etown a 50-40 lead. McAfee struck with a three-pointer for Widener at 2:08 to cut the Blue Jays' lead to 50-43. Flynn made a pair of free throws at 1:47 to give Etown a 53-43 lead. McAfee hit another three at 1:11 to cut the Etown lead back down to seven points, 53-46. Conrad was fouled at 1:03 and made both of his free throws to boost Etown's lead to nine points, 55-46.
Ford made a three-pointer with 45 seconds left to cut Etown's lead to six points, 55-49, but Barron was fouled with 43.5 seconds left and he made both of his free throws to give Etown a 57-49 advantage. Conrad was fouled with 23 seconds left, and he made both of his free throws to give Etown a 59-49 lead. Widener scored with 9.3 seconds left on a Clarkson layup to cut the gap to 59-51, and Conrad was fouled again with 6.8 seconds left. He made both of his free thows to put Etown up, 61-51. Blakey made a three-pointer for Widener in the game's closing seconds to pull to within seven, 61-54.
Conrad was the only Etown player in double digits in scoring, and he finished the game with 20 points, including a three-for-five performance behind the arc and a nine-for-nine performance from the free throw line. Flynn led the Blue Jays in rebounds with eight, and he scored eight points, and Daecher led the team in assists with five while scoring six points and pulling down five rebounds.
McAfee led Widener in scoring with 21 points, and he hit four three pointers. Ford added 13 points for Widener, and Smith scored 10 points and was Widener's top rebounder with nine boards.
Etown will now advance to face an opponent to be determined in the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament. The tournament field and pairings will be announced by the NCAA late Sunday night.
02/28/04 3:00 p.m. at Schwartz Athletic Center - Chester, PA