Marauders move into quarters
Claim second win over Shippensburg in four days. By Will Welliver, Correspondent
Millersville returned to the PSAC playoffs for the first time since 2008 Saturday, and Anthony Coleman made the most of the opportunity.
The junior guard scored a career-high 36 points to power the Marauders to a 79-69 win over Shippensburg in a PSAC first round game at Pucillo Gymnasium. The win sends Millersville to West Chester, which had a first-round bye, for Tuesday's quarterfinals.
After sweeping the season series against Shippensburg, including an 83-69 win Wednesday night at Pucillo, the third-seeded Marauders (19-10) came out flying but struggled to get shots to fall. Millersville shot just 7 for 22 from the field over the opening 15 minutes of the game, and that gave the sixth-seeded Red Raiders (7-20) an opening.
Shippensburg took advantage, leading by as many four, 17-13 with 6:00 left in the first half. Tied at 20-20 with 4:08 to go, Elijah Obade hit a layup to put Millersville back in front and jumpstart a 15-4 run to carry the Marauders into halftime with a 35-24 lead. Obade scored seven of his team-high nine first-half points during the run.
"I think we just came out a little hyped. We just had to get the guys to settle down, it was a great environment," Millersville coach Fred Thompson said. "Guys were excited, pumped up and we were shooting shots long, making mistakes. But after we got them settled down we were able to do what we wanted to."
After the break, Coleman carried the Marauders, scoring 27 of the team's 44 points and going 10 for 12 from the field.
"I was just taking whatever I could get," Coleman said. "We've played them twice already. They know how I play and I knew they were going to do a good job trying to guard me. They made it tough but everything was working tonight."
"He knows how to put the ball in the basket," Thompson said of Coleman. "He has a great understanding of the game. He just knows how to play. And when he gets into a rhythm like that, he's tough to stop."
But even with Coleman on fire offensively, the Red Raiders had their chances in the second half, cutting the Millersville lead to as few as seven points. But each time they did, the Marauders had an answer and at one point, went on a 10-2 run to stretch the lead to 15 with 9:07 to go in the game. But as resilient as the Raiders seemed to be, Millersville kept pushing them back.
"It's always tough, especially when you play them back-to-back," Thompson said. "We talked about just doing what we did Wednesday, but doing it better. We have to be better at what we're doing. And I think we were a little bit better late in the game."
One of the things Millersville did well Wednesday was hitting foul shots. And the Marauders found success at the line again Saturday. Shippensburg committed 17 fouls in the second half, and it proved costly as the Marauders hit 20 of 27 from the line in the second half. For the game, Millersville went 29 for 40 (72.5 percent) and outscored the Red Raiders at the foul line (16 for 25) by 13 points.
Coleman's career best overshadowed his teammates offensively, but Obade registered a double-double, pulling down a team-high 11 rebounds to go with 10 points, while Nate Bollinger also scored 10 points. And season-leading scorer Larry Grant matched a season-low with six points. However, he had a team-high five assists, including setting up Coleman for a couple of big second-half baskets.
Joe Lococo had a team-high 21 points to lead the Raiders, while Dylan Edgar scored 15 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Notes: Shippensburg actually finished seventh in the PSAC East division, but qualified for the playoffs because fourth-place Cheyney was ineligible for postseason play. It was the Red Raiders' first playoff appearance since 2007.n