Following the women’s game against the Crimson Hawks, the Millersville men’s basketball team took the floor to face off in game two of the double-header against Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Indiana came in with an undefeated record of 7-0 and a conference record of 2-0 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). As for the Marauders, they entered the matchup a game over .500 for the season at a record of 4-3 and a 1-1 conference record within the PSAC.
Indiana is coming off of their nine point victory against the Kutztown Golden Bears, looking to remain undefeated traveling to Millersville. The Marauders on the other hand, are coming off of a convincing win against California University of Pennsylvania by a commanding 21 points. This matchup would prove to be a battle for this young Marauders team, as they try to find that consistent winning strategy to implement throughout the rest of the season.
Coach Casey Stitzel in his lifetime as a coach here in Millersville has knocked off two nationally ranked teams within the “Men’s Basketball Coaches Association.” Facing off against Indiana, Stitzel would try to go for a third ranked upset leading his young team into the matchup.
Senior guard Marcus Adkison comes in leading the team in points and assists averaging over 20 points on the year plus over 30 rebounds. Caden Najdawi and James Sullivan also having good seasons, look to get things going early to topple Indiana. The Hawks came in behind their scoring leaders Jacobo Diaz and Malik Miller looking to start strong against this young, but solid Millersville team.
In the first half, Indiana dominated as they would go into halftime with a double digit lead over the Marauders. Even through the lead was big, the Marauders still felt they were in the game.
The Crimson Hawks ended the first half shooting an impressive 50% from the field, over 55% from three point range, and 62% from the free throw line. Diaz and Miller led the way for the Hawks in scoring and caused problems down low in the first half for the Marauders. Also, seniors Dante Lombardi and Willem Brandwijk contributed mightily. They penetrated the interior of the Marauders time after time with defensive and offensive rebounds. On the other side, senior guard Marcus Adkison, freshman guard Jaden Faulkner, and freshman forward Justin Nwosu led the Marauders in scoring. Najdawi significantly made a difference guarding the bigs for Indiana, but got in early foul trouble for his aggressiveness.
Coach Stitzel knew that he would have to close down the interior and get his players to cut back on the fouls if the Marauders were to get back in the game.
To start the second half, Indiana kept up their intensity as their lead grew to as much as 16 points with under 17 minutes left in the half. From there, Adkinson went off as he hit three straight 3-pointers on three straight Marauders possessions and finished with 26 points to go along with six 3-pointers on 12 attempts.
Millersville continued that unbelievable run in the half to eventually get within striking distance late in the game behind a solid team effort as well. Freshman forward Justin Nwosu finished with 16 points and four rebounds and to go along with that, Jamal Washington’s five clutch points off the bench for the Marauders brought Millersville even closer.
Freshman Jaden Faulkner finished with the exact same stat line as Nwosu, but did not hit a three pointer and also had eight turnovers. Indiana’s Armoni Foster came through late for the Hawks as his eight points was enough to give Indiana a four point lead late. Adkison with time running low, hit his sixth 3-pointer off a screen-handoff from Senior forward Amadou Kaba to make the score 74-73.
With time expiring and following a timeout from Indiana on a failed inbounds play, Millersville had to defend the Hawks’ again on another inbound play on their end of the floor. Millersville’s Kaba, who ended replacing Najdawi after fouling out, would end up forcing a turnover on the Hawks guard Dante Lombardi with only five-seconds left in the game. As possession changed, Washington for the Marauders would receive the inbound pass to his surprise and was forced to put up a tough shot late. The ball hit the rim twice and bounced off to the left as the buzzer sounded giving Indiana their eighth straight win by a narrow deficit defeating the Marauders in a true nail-biter 74-73.
Indiana looks to keep their undefeated season alive as they face off against another undefeated team in Shippensburg at 7:30 PM on December 8. Millersville, meanwhile will try to get back to a game above .500 where they also play December 8, but instead at 3 PM against Seton Hill who are struggling this season at 1-5.