November 30, 2013

MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS TO WHEELING JESUIT, 98-85, IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME OF GARY MILLER CLASSIC

Erie, Pa. – Justin Fritts scored 23 points to lead Wheeling Jesuit University to a 98-85 win over the Le Moyne College men's basketball team on Saturday night in the championship game of the 30th Annual Gary Miller Classic at the Hammermill Center.

The match-up, the first ever between the two programs, is one of 46 men's contests this season between Jesuit institutions. The Dolphins are now 50-49 all-time against Jesuit institutions.

Senior guard Nate Champion with tournament sponsor Gary Miller (L) and Gannon Director of Athletics Mark Richard (R)

Senior guard Nate Champion (Logansport, Ind./Logansport) led the Dolphins with 28 points, including 14 in each half, while adding five rebounds and five assists to earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Sophomore forward Connor Mahoney (Hanover, Mass./BC High/Brooks School) recorded 16 points, while classmate Qwadere Lovell (Mount Vernon, N.Y./Mount Vernon) tallied 14 points, including 11 in the first half. Junior forward Ryan Romich (Groton, Mass./Groton-Dunstable/Vermont Academy) was the fourth Dolphin in double-digits with 13 points.

Fritts, who joined Champion on the all-tournament team, recorded 17 of his points in the second half. Andre Harris registered 21 points, 12 of which came in the second half, six assists and three steals. Eric Siefert, named the Most Outstanding Player, posted 13 points and dished out nine assists. Kyle Ritz came off the bench to post 16 points (10 in the first half) and pull down a game-high seven rebounds.

After the teams split the game's first 14 points over the opening 3:19, the Dolphins posted seven of the next nine points to take their largest lead of the game with 14:39 remaining. Mahoney started the run with a three-pointer, freshman forward Stan Buczek (Port Jervis, N.Y./Burke Catholic) followed with two free throws after Tim Goff made a lay-up for Wheeling Jesuit and then Champion buried a jump shot.

Fritts made a three-pointer and Ritz converted a lay-up to knot the score at 14 with 13:41 left before the teams traded points, resulting in an 18-18 tie with 11:30 to go. The Cardinals then scored six straight points and nine of the next 11 to take a seven-point advantage. Ritz had four of the points, Harris made a lay-up and Chase Lawson ended the run with a three-pointer.

Following a 10-4 run by the Dolphins to cut their deficit to one with 7:38 left, Wheeling Jesuit rattled off a 10-1 run for its largest lead of the half. After Lovell made two free throws, Champion made a three-pointer, a lay-up, a jump shot and a free throw to make the score 31-30. In Wheeling Jesuit's spurt, Siefert nailed a three-pointer, Ritz converted a lay-up, Justin Andes buried a three-pointer and then Harris made a lay-up.

Le Moyne responded with a 10-2 run to pull within two with 2:07 left in the stanza. Champion ignited the run with a jumper, Lovell followed with two free throws, Mahoney nailed a three-pointer and then Lovell buried a shot from three-point range.

Siefert made a free throw and Harris drilled a three-pointer to give the Cardinals a 47-41 lead at halftime.

The Dolphins opened the second half with an 8-4 run over the first 2:39 to close within two, the closest they would get. Champion had five of the points, while graduate student center Jim Janson (Scotia, N.Y./Scotia-Glenville) had the other three.

After a Janson lay-up made the score 55-53 with 15:26 left, the Cardinals scored 11 straight points to take control of the game. Harris had eight points in the span around a three-pointer by Siefert.

Following a Buczek three-point play to end Wheeling Jesuit's spurt, the Cardinals registered 16 of the next 23 points to take their largest lead of the game (82-63) with 8:04 remaining. Matt Stewart had the first five and then Fritts scored eight points around a conventional three-point play by Ritz.

After the teams traded points over the next 3:05, resulting in an 89-73 Wheeling Jesuit lead, the Dolphins tallied nine of the next 10 points to trim their deficit in half with 2:52 left. Romich, Mahoney and Champion each had two points in the stretch before Lovell nailed a three-pointer.

The Cardinals closed out the game with eight of the last 11 points over the final 2:37. Four different Wheeling Jesuit players scored two points in the span, while Romich made a free throw and Buczek had a tip-in for the Dolphins.

Le Moyne (3-3), which scored at least 80 points and lost in regulation for the first time since an 88-84 loss to Adelphi on January 2, 2011 (6-0 since, 0-3 in overtime games with 80+ points), returns to action on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. against Northeast-10 Conference foe American International College.