MBB: Colonels fall in MAC Freedom playoffs

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The Wilkes University Colonels played the Misericordia University Cougars on Feb. 21, where they fell, 72-58. The game was the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom semifinal where the Colonels came in as the tournaments top seed.

The Colonels were able to earn the top seed in the MAC Freedom by going 11-3 play and 6-1 at home throughout conference play. Wilkes came in also beating their opponent Misericordia in both of their meetings.

The first time these two teams clashed was in January. On the Feb. 24, the Colonels came into the Anderson Sports-Health Center in Dallas looking to jump the Cougars in the standings. Both teams entered the game with 5-1 records and in a tie for first place in the conference. The game was tight the entire time, and they eventually would need extra time to create seperation on the scoreboard. The game ended with the Colonels edging the Cougars 87-82.

The second meeting was not much different then the first meeting as the two teams battled it out in the Marts Center. The first half was close, but the Colonels were able to take the lead and get some cushion thanks to a three-point buzzer beater from Connor Evans. Wilkes took control in the second half and cruised to an 86-72 win.

The Colonels came into the game losing a nail-biter on senior day at the Marts Center to Eastern, 69-66, following an Antonio Chapman buzzer beater. Wilkes also came into the game knowing they would have to play their second straight game without their starting point guard Connor Evans, who injured his knee last Tuesday against King’s.

The third match-up, the MAC Freedom semifinal, played out almost identically to the second meeting, but with the roles reversed.

The game started with a great playoff feel, as the Marts Center was packed, filled with students and Colonels fans dressed in all white for the white out. Both teams seemed to have some butterflies as they struggled to get the games first points.

Once Misericordia got the game’s first basket, both team’s offenses heated up. Rob Pecorelli (16 points) got the Colonels going, helping them keep pace with Jason Kenny (29 points) and the Cougars. Both teams went shot for shot with each other, keeping the half within six points throughout its entirety. Going into halftime, Wilkes was unable to capitalize on the final possession of the half so the Cougars lead 32-31.

The second half picked up where the first half left off with both teams continuing to exchange blows. Around the halfway point of the second half, the Cougars defense found their rhythm on defense as slowed the Colonels’ offense down drastically.

With Tre Fields (7 points) almost entirely eliminating Wilkes’ star Marcus Robinson (7 points) for the entire game, and Kenny, who was named the MAC Freedom player of the year on Thursday 2/22, moving over to guard Pecorelli, holding him to just five second half points.

While the Colonels were slowed down, the Cougars kept their foots on the gas as Kenny picked up 18 second half points, along with 11 rebounds throughout the game to record the double-double. Noah Rivera (16 points) also picked up a double-double for the Cougars with 12 rebounds.

The game slipped away from Wilkes as Misericordia went on a 23-7 run between the twelve  and four minute marks. The Colonels trailed 66-53 with just under three minutes left. Wilkes tried to fight their way back but without enough time and Misericordia continuing to score, the comeback was shot down, and the Cougars won 72-58.

Misericordia advanced to the MAC Freedom Championship with the win, where they will play the DeSales University Bulldogs. DeSales, the third seed in the tournament, beat the second seeded Eastern University Eagles.

The Bulldogs and the Cougars split the season series, with the home team winning each game. The game at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., was an offensive slugfest with the Bulldogs coming out on top 90-83. The second game, at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., was a much lower scoring game with the Cougars barely edging the Bulldogs 58-57.

This matchup between DeSales and Misericordia is also a rematch of last years MAC Freedom championship, where the Cougars won 78-75. Both teams also had to win road games to get to the championship, but Misericordia was home last year. The last two MAC Freedom Championships have been decided by three points and the home team has won four straight MAC Freedom Championship games and six of the previous seven.

The Colonels’ season may not be over yet even though they were eliminated from the MAC Freedom tournament. The Colonels still await an NCAA at-large berth or a berth into the ECAC tournament.

Misericordia 72, Wilkes 58

Misericordia (72) — Jason Kenny 9 9-10 29, Noah Rivera 5 6-8 16, Tony Harding 4 5-8 15, Tre’ Fields 2 3-4 7, Alec Rodway 1 0-0 2, Stone McCreary 1 0-1 3, Tyrell Mann 0 0-0 0, Patrick Douthit 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 23-31 72.

Wilkes (58) — Mark Mullins 8 2-2 18, Rob Pecorelli 7 0-0 16, Zach Brunner 6 0-0 12, Marcus Robinson 2 2-2 7, Landon Henry 0 0-0 0, Tommy Bowen 2 0-0 4, Mason Gross 0 1-2 1, Jack Bova 0 0-0 0, Clay Basalyga 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 5-6 58.

Halftime — Misericordia 32-31.

Three-point goals — MIS 5 (Kenny 2, Harding 2, McCreary); WIL 3 (Pecorelli 2, Robinson).