Playoff basketball has been all over the Wyoming Valley and Wilkes University was no exception Thursday night.
The Colonels men’s basketball is one step away from a MAC Freedom championship after they beat Eastern 79-72 in the conference semifinal game at the Marts Center.
“I’m excited to go back to a championship game,” Wilkes head coach Izzi Metz said. “I think we’ve earned everything up to this point. Our guys work extremely hard and tonight was a hard-fought game like we expected.”
Wilkes was led by by their top four scorers on the season in this one as Tommy Bowen, Rob Pecorelli and Marcus Robinson each ended the game in double figures.
“When those four can play well scoring and playing well in the other spots in the game we have a good chance to win every game,” Metz said. “Those four guys are capable of scoring in double figures every night and they did tonight.”
Eastern scored the game’s first basket and led 5-4 but Wilkes took a 7-4 lead and held the lead for the rest of the game.
“We were able to start right from the get go and make some shots and come up with some stops on defense,” Mets said. “We played with a lead for the entire game which helped us play with confidence.”
Eastern did make a run early in the second half, cutting a 13 point lead from the first half down to just one. Wilkes was able to get their feet underneath themselves and build their lead back up to a comfortable position.
Wilkes spent most of the game leading by at least five or six.
“It was huge for us to string together defensive stops and push in transition,” Metz said. “The guys really played like veteran players tonight and it helped us.”
Bowen scored 22 points to lead the Colonels on the offensive end followed by Pecorelli who scored 18. Mullins and Robinson both had good games on both sides of the ball as Mullins scored 16 points and had four steals while Robinson had 10 points and three steals.
Bowen had a tough matchup against two of the conference’s best big men in Michael Bowlers and William Blet.
“I just try to do whatever I can,” Bowen said. “I like to think I have a step on most big guys in the league down low. I may be smaller but I love to play physical and run the floor.”
The Colonels were also fueled by a big crowd at the Marts Center as the team had support from the campus and their families.
“It was awesome to have a big crowd come out and support us,” Bowen said. “They were loud, and they gave us a nice boost.
The Colonels will travel to DeSales for the MAC Freedom Championship game on Saturday after the Bulldogs beat Delaware Valley.
The Colonels went 1-1 in conference play against DeSales with the home team winning each game.
This will be the second straight year DeSales will host the championship after they lost to Misericordia last year.