Associate Sports Editor
This Monday the Men’s Basketball team defeated Shepherd University, and gave Millersville their first playoff win in five years. This win sends the Marauders through to the quarterfinals of the PSAC Tournament, but how did they get there?
After losing their second to last game of the season, the Marauders record dropped to 13-14. While this standing was enough to earn them a playoff berth, a win in their final game would additionally secure home court advantage for their first playoff match.
The Marauders faced the Bald Eagles of Lock Haven University, who were 12-13 at the time, and also had the motivation of better playoff seeding. However the desire for the win proved much stronger as the first half ended with them doubling the Bald Eagles score 53-25, and ended the game 94-76.
In fact the Marauders kept the lead throughout the entire game. This solid performance was due to substantial performances from Khari Williams, Mekhi Hendricks, as well as the rest of the team.
With this win the Marauders remained home for their playoff game against the Rams of Shepherd University. The Marauders had lost to the Rams both of their matches in the regular season, but would turn the tide for the PSAC Tournament.
The Marauders defense would be a key factor as they accumulated 3 blocks and 10 steals throughout the game (comparatively the Rams were only able to obtain 2 blocks and 2 steals). They were also able to hold onto the lead throughout the majority of the game, only losing the lead twice. Furthermore their offense, though shooting at percentages lower than normal, outscored that of the Rams in both halves.
Caden Najdawi was on the bench during the two regular season games against the Rams, and when given the chance to compete against them in this match he played phenomenally. Najdawi scored 25 points during his 37 minutes of play time, while also making his presence known on defense.
Additionally Khari Williams scored 15 points in the first half alone, which helped create the lead the Marauders would hold during the rest of the game. James Sullivan was the second highest in scoring, and in the final minute connected a long three point shot to put the game on ice.
Coach Casey Stitzel was extremely happy with the win commenting, “It’s huge. A lot of people don’t understand that when you are rebuilding a program you just don’t wake up one year and you are a PSAC champion. There are steps to be taken. We took some steps last year but we didn’t respond to the adversity in the second half against Kutztown. This year, it was the complete opposite. We answered the bell. Everyone that played today contributed. The culture is strong. The guys are doing the right stuff. It’s cool to see the rebuild starting to take off and hopefully we can take another step Wednesday.”
The Marauders won with a convincing score of 79-69, and advance to the PSAC Men’s Basketball quarterfinals. They go on the road to face their #1 division seed Shippensburg on Wednesday, March 4. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.