Devils Clinch Playoff Berth with Win
The University of the Sciences men's basketball team held off a late surge from Holy Family University and defeated the Tigers 86-80 Wednesday evening at the Bobby Morgan Arena, clinching a spot in the upcoming conference playoffs.
The win secures the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference southern division as the Devils improve to 12-11 overall and 7-9 in league play. This will be the Sciences' first trip to the playoffs since the 2007-08 season. The Tigers fell to 6-20 overall and 4-12 in league play.
In his final home game of his career, senior Adewale Adefemi (Winslow Township HS/Chesilhurst, N.J.) produced an efficient 9-for-13 effort from the field to lead all scorers with 21 points. Adefemi also grabbed six rebounds had four steals and three assists. Myer Messinger (Dallas Area HS/Trucksville, Pa.) added 19 points while Tyrone Mann-Barnes (Collingswood HS/Woodlynne, N.J.) chipped in 18 (6-9 FG, 4-7 3FG). Will Kernan (The Lawrenceville School/Medford, N.J.) had 11 points (9-14 FT) while dishing out a season high nine assists (only one turnover) and pulling down six boards. Patrick Connaghan (Chestnut Hill Academy/Warrington, Pa.) led the Devils in the rebound department grabbing nine. Senior Omari Phillip (Germantown Friends School/Elkins Park, Pa.) came off the bench to score a season high eight points and six rebounds.
Sam Mushman led four Tiger players in double figures with 20 points. Tim Smith had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Rashaad Sneed and Nate Hodge 14 and 12 points respectively. Smith also dished out five assists to pace the Tigers.
The Devils led this one wire-to-wire, building a 14 point lead at the break, 45-31 on a solid 62% shooting effort in the opening 20 minutes. Baskets by Connaghan and Adefemi opened the second half before the Tigers seven straight to pull within 11 49-38 with 13:40 left. An 18-8 effort by the Devils over the next six minutes provided their largest lead of the game at 67-46 at the 7:23 mark before the Tigers began their comeback.
Following Henry Messinger's (Dallas Area HS/Trucksville, Pa.) layup which gave the Devils their 21 point lead, the Tigers ran off 15 straight points to pull within six 67-61 with 3:25 left. A traditional three-point play from Kernan stopped the bleeding momentarily and gave Sciences a 70-61 lead with 3:02 left. The Tigers countered with a triple from Hodge and the lead back to six. Both teams exchanged points until Adefemi's two handed slam with 1:11 provided some excitement and gave the Devils a 77-69 lead and it was off to the foul line for Sciences the rest of the way, a place that has not been too kind to the Devils this season. Tonight was no exception, but was just good enough to hang on. The Devils made nine of 14 free throws down the stretch but three straight three-point field goals by the Tigers shaved the lead to three 83-80 with six seconds left. A intentional foul call gave the Devils two free throws and the ball back with 3.5 seconds left. Kernan sank one of two and then Myer Messinger was fouled on the ensuing inbounds and sank two more to give the Devils their final margin of victory 86-80.
It was another solid shooting effort by the Devils who finished the game shooting 58.8% (30-51) from the field. The tigers shot 43.8% (28-64) and more than doubled the doubles output from three point territory making 11 of 30 to Sciences' 5 of 14. Despite missing ten or more free throws for the 14th time this season the Devils had the better percentage making 63.6% (21-33) to HFU's 56.5% (13-23). Sciences took full advantage of the Tigers 14 turnovers, scoring 23 points from them while the Tigers could not capitalize as much on 19 miscues from the Devils, scoring just 18 points.. The Devils also held a 37-30 advantage on the boards.
The Devils will close out their regular season on the road with a game at Post University on Saturday, February 26, 2011. Tipoff is 3:00 p.m. The CACC playoff will begin on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 with the Devils traveling to Goldey-Beacom College.