MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – North Division top seed, Morrisville State College men's basketball, advanced to the semifinals Tuesday evening as they downed Route 20 Rival Cazenovia College by a 75-70 final in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) quarterfinal round held in Morrisville.
Morrisville State improves to 18-8 on the season with the victory. After reseeding of the remainder of the tournament field, the Mustangs will be the second overall seed and will face another familiar face in SUNY Polytechnic in the semifinal round, scheduled for Saturday at Lancaster Bible College at 4 p.m.
Cazenovia concludes their schedule slate at 8-18.
Senior guard Trent Ward (Auburn, N.Y.) led Morrisville State with 19 points on the night, adding four assists and two steals, while teammates Brison Hall (Syracuse, N.Y.) added 14 and Kevin Dennis (Bronx, N.Y.) 13.
Dennis also contributed eight boards, along with teammate Derek Beames (Otego, N.Y.) as the Mustangs outgained the Wildcats 42-33 on the glass.
Cazenovia's Will Thompson led all scorers with 20, 13 that came in the second half of play, with three additional teammates contributing to the efforts with double figures, including Lucci Vigliotti who came off the bench for 12.
Nicholas Filippi added 11, and Jaceary Menes wrapped up the Wildcat leaderboard with 10.
Both teams played to a back and forth opening half, with Cazenovia holding the seven point lead until the 6:20 mark when Dennis hit a jumper followed by a three-point play from Hall to spark a 13-4 Mustang run. The highlight though was the fast break dunk Ward threw down with 1:22 remaining in the half that brought the crowd to its feet.
The Mustangs run was capped off by a long ball from Beames at the top of the key with a mere two seconds to go in the half, to give the hosts the 36-32 edge at the break.
Much like the first half, the second period found the rivals battling back and forth once again, and with 10 minutes to go was knotted at 50.
Ward nailed one from beyond the arc and Stefan Marchlewski (Poland) added another moments later for the four point host lead, but once again Cazenovia stayed within striking distance, never trailing by more than five late in the half.
Thompson drove the lane for the Wildcats and made it a two-point ball game, 69-67 in favor of the Mustangs, with 2:12 to go, but Ward countered with his own attack in the paint for the four point lead with 50 ticks remaining.
Dennis converted two from the free throw line to give Morrisville State the three point advantage, but Vigliotti hit all three free throw attempts for Cazenovia with 21 seconds to go to cut the deficit to three.
After a Ahmon Powell foul on the block attempt, Kyle Peck (Oneida, N.Y.) extended the host lead to five hitting both from the charity stripe. A last second effort by Cazenovia fell into the hands of Dennis who secured the ball for the Mustang win.
Lancaster Bible earned the top seed overall and will meet fourth seed Wilson College in the first semi of the day Saturday. The winners will advance to the championship tournament, scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Lancaster.
The winner will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.