Rams end season for MU men
BY ED GRUVER, Sports Writer
WEST CHESTER -- Millersville men's basketball senior center Elijah Obade admitted it was emotional.
Playing long-standing rival West Chester always is.
But suffering a season-ending loss to the Golden Rams, 73-62, as the Marauders did Tuesday night in a mistake-filled Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinal here at Hollinger Field House, only added to that emotion.
"I was part of that," Obade said of an MU performance that included 21 turnovers and a 10-for-27 (37 percent) night from the free-throw line. "It was definitely frustrating. As frustrating as it is, I know we're trying hard and giving maximum effort."
In the end, it wasn't enough against a West Chester team that rode junior guard Troy Hockaday's career-high 24 points and 14 apiece from Jon Breeden and Corey Blake into Friday's semifinal at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Indians, the top seed in the Western bracket, beat Edinboro in overtime to advance.
Millersville, 19-11 and the No. 3 seed in the East, needed to win the PSAC Tournament to qualify for the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Guard Anthony Coleman scored 17, Obade added 13 and a game-best 10 rebounds, and Brandon Brown scored 10 off the bench, but the Marauders were done in by turnovers and missed opportunities at the free-throw line.
"When you don't make free throws and you turn the ball over, this is the result of it," MU coach Fred Thompson said. "We knew we couldn't turn the ball over a lot and 21 turnovers is a lot. Turnovers and missed free throws is a bad recipe for any team."
In what was just the third postseason meeting in the PSAC's oldest rivalry, there were four lead changes before Millersville sprinted to a 13-8 advantage following Larry Grant's deep 3-ball from the top of the arc.
"The first five minutes they outplayed us, outphysicaled us," Rams boss Damien Blair said. "Then we turned it on."
Matt Wisely's steal and layup highlighted a 14-0 run in which West Chester's defense proved Ram tough. Forcing three turnovers and holding MU scoreless from the field for nearly six minutes, the No. 2 Rams (20-7) ran out to a 22-13 lead.
Millersville rallied and eventually tied the game at 29 late in the half, but Hockaday's triple from the top of the arc swung momentum, and the lead, back to West Chester.
"I was wide open and I knew I had to knock it down," Hockaday said of his game-turning trey. "It gave us momentum going into the half."
Ahead 34-31 at the break, the Rams upped their advantage to as high as 15 (62-47) with 6:45 left. The Marauders didn't get closer than 10 the rest of way until Brown's trey with 20 ticks remaining.
West Chester won despite shooting just 33 percent (22 of 67) from the floor. On the flip side, the Rams committed just 10 turnovers and shot 76 percent (25 of 33) from the free-throw line.
"The stats," Thompson said, "tell the story."
Notes: West Chester won the first playoff matchup with MU in 2000. The Marauders returned the favor in 2005. Both games were played at Hollinger Field House. … Millersville split its two previous meetings this season with the Rams, each team winning on its opponent's court. Historically, home-court advantage has been important in this rivalry. Including Tuesday night, the host team has won 25 of the last 32 meetings. … MU and WCU have split their last 10 regular-season showdowns. The Marauders own a 96-93 lead in a series that dates to 1903.