EAST STROUDSBURG - Sophomore guard Whis Grant, the PSAC East Athlete of the Year, scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half and spearheaded a game-changing 22-0 run, leading defending PSAC champion East Stroudsburg University to its fourth straight PSAC Final Four with a 102-74 win over Mansfield on Tuesday night at Koehler Fieldhouse.
The Warriors (22-5) will face Slippery Rock in the semifinals on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at IUP, which will host the Final Four as the PSAC West's top seed after pulling out an 89-87 (OT) win over Edinboro. Slippery Rock won at Gannon, 62-58 (OT), and West Chester advanced with a 73-62 win over Millersville.
Grant, who was recognized as PSAC East Athlete of the Year earlier on Tuesday, senior forward Terrance King (14 points, 7 rebounds), also a first team pick, and senior forward Duane Johnson (15 points, 6 rebounds), a second team selection, combined for 50 points for the Warriors.
Johnson and King, last year's PSAC Tournament MVP, both played in their 10th career postseason game, the most in school history. They are both one game from tying Todd Painton (117 - 1988-92) for the most games played in an ESU uniform.
Head coach Jeff Wilson, the PSAC East Coach of the Year for the second time in four years, watched his team shoot 53.3 percent overall and 59.1 percent (13-for-22) from the three-point line. They also held a 44-33 advantage in rebounds, an 18-10 edge in second-chance points and 24-14 margin in point off turnovers.
ESU, the PSAC East regular season champion, got off to a slow start against a Mansfield (10-18) team that had won four straight following a 101-68 win over Bloomsburg in the first round on Saturday night.
Mansfield led 9-2 early and still held a 22-21 advantage at the 10:39 mark of the first half before the Warriors took over.
Senior guard Blair Ramsey, one of five ESU seniors, scored four straight points to start the stretch. King hit two free throws after an offensive rebound and Johnson drilled a three for a quick 9-0 spurt and a 30-22 lead.
Grant scored eight of the next 10, sandwiched around a dunk by King, and sophomore guard Matt Tobin stretched it to 43-22 with a three-point play with 3:42 remaining as the Warriors seized control.
Senior forward Gerald Bridges hit his only shot of the game, a three-pointer for the 100th of his career, with 2:38 left in the first half. Johnson struck again from deep and sophomore forward Lamont Tillery hit the last of ESU's eight first-half three's with 1:22 to play and the Warriors led 54-33 at halftime.
ESU led by at least 20 the rest of the way, stretching it to 31 on a putback by junior forward Zechariah Runkle (six points, seven rebounds) with just under eight minutes to play. The largest lead was 34 (100-66) with just over two minutes remaining.
Grant had his 10th 20-point game of the season and sophomore guard Matt Tobin added 11 points and six assists as starters in the backcourt.
Tillery (eight points, five rebounds), freshman forward Dajon Todmann (eight points, four rebounds), Ramsey (seven points, four assists) and Runkle led a bench effort that produced 38 points.
Joe Bell, an All-PSAC East first team selection as a sophomore, had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead Mansfield. Kevonte McClain had 16 points and Chuck Harper added 11 points for the Mounties.
* Grant led the Warriors and was 7th in the PSAC with 17.4 ppg during the regular season. He was the fourth sophomore to be named Athlete of the Year in either the PSAC East or PSAC West (since 1988).
* Grant was the top scorer on last year's PSAC championship team with 13.9 ppg.
* ESU is the PSAC East regular season champion for the 3rd time in school history - joining its teams in 1992 and 2010.
* ESU and IUP are the 8th and 9th schools to make four straight PSAC Final Fours in the last 30 years. Edinboro had done it most recently, from 2005-08.
* ESU is trying to become the third team to repeat as PSAC champion in the last 30 years - following IUP (2010-11) and Edinboro (2005-06).
* Three of this year's Final Four repeated from last year - ESU, West Chester and IUP, who will meet in the semifinals for the second straight year. Slippery Rock replaced Mercyhurst as the other PSAC West representative this season.
* ESU's 22 wins are the third-most in school history. The Warriors won 24 games in 2009-10 and 23 in 1972-73.
* The Warriors played their first home playoff game since hosting the 2010 Final Four.
* They won last year's PSAC title with three wins away from home - 99-91 (OT) at Kutztown in the quarterfinals, 66-58 vs. Mercyhurst in the semifinals and 90-85 at West Chester in the championship game.
* ESU is ranked No. 19 in this week's NABC Division II Coaches Poll, up one spot from last week. The Warriors have been ranked for six straight weeks, tied for the longest stretch in school history (during the 2009-10 season). They were ranked as high as No. 9 on February 12.
* ESU was No. 3 in last week's NCAA Division II Atlantic Region rankings (a new set will be released Wednesday). The top eight schools will be selected to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
BLOOMSBURG--The Bloomsburg University women's basketball team placed four players in double figures as it rolled to an 81-52 win over Kutztown University in a PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) Quarterfinal playoff game on Wednesday night.
With the win the Huskies (22-5) will now host the PSAC Final Four on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9 at the Nelson Field House.
Bloomsburg led from start to finish in the game starting with Catherine Noack (Bethlehem/Liberty) nailing a three-pointer 1:30 into the game to get the Huskies going. Noack would go on to score BU's first 12 points, all on three-pointers.
Then, with the Huskies leading 6-4 with 17:01 to play, Bloomsburg would put together a 24-0 run over the eight minutes to take control of the game. Kayla Oxenrider (Ashland/Tri-Valley) scored 10 points in the run with Danielle Derr (Dresner/Upper Dublin) adding four as the Huskies opened a 30-4 advantage with 8:05 to go in the half.
Defensively in the eight-minute scoring drought for Kutztown, the Huskies forced the Bears into seven turnovers and 0-7 from the field. Kutztown broke the big run when Aly York hit a free throw with 7:46 to play in the period.
The Huskies also held the Golden Bears without a field goal for nearly 14 minutes of play in the first 20 minutes of action before Alyssa Bonenberger scored with 2:32 to go in the half.
Bloomsburg led 51-19 at the break shooting 54.5 percent (18-33) from the field, while holding the Golden Bears to just 22.2 percent (4-18).
In the second half the Huskies continued its hot shooting and led by as many as 40 points on three times, the last coming with 10:02 to play with the score 72-32 on a three-point play from Oxenrider.
Kutztown did close the game on 13-7 run to bring the final score to 81-52. The 29-point win was the second largest playoff victory for the Huskies, just off a 30-point win for Bloomsburg in the 1992 PSAC championship game.
The Huskies had three players Noack, Oxenrider and Lauren Ellis (Bangor/Bangor) score 15 points each, while Derr came off the bench to score 12. Dana Wieller (Bethlehem/Liberty) scored seven points and had seven assists with Alyssa Flanagan (Freeland/Hazleton Area) scoring four and getting six assists.
Kutztown (16-12) got 13 points from Natalya Lee and 11 from Bonenberger in the loss.
The Huskies will now face Edinboro in the PSAC semi-finals on Friday at 7:30 p.m. In the opening game Gannon, the top seed in the West, will face Millersville at 5:30 p.m. The winners will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. for the PSAC Championship.