Most PSAC fans thought the Clarion Golden Eagles men’s basketball team was lucky to be in the playoffs. These same doubters thought they would get hammered on the road by the high-powered Edinboro Fighting Scots.
They could not have been more wrong Saturday afternoon.
Clarion (14-15) used an immaculate second half effort to overcome an eight-point halftime deficit, winning going away by a score of 83-69. In their first PSAC playoffs since the 2009-10 season, the Golden Eagles turned up the heat in the McComb Fieldhouse by shooting a scalding 62.5 percent in the second half to earn the upset.
Both offenses came out as expected flying up and down the court early and often. Just two weeks after their overtime thriller in the same building, it was the Fighting Scots (15-11) controlling the first half, going up by as many as 13 points. They also held an astounding 26-14 rebound advantage over Clarion in the first half. Seeing their college careers about to end, Clarion saw its leading seniors come together to lead the second-half comeback.
Seniors Andre’ Anthony and Rob Agurs each finished with more than 20 points for the game, most of them coming during the second-half onslaught. Each team traded basket after basket for the first part of the second half until one quick cold stretch by the Fighting Scots proved to be devastating. Clarion built a lead by as much as 16 points with five minutes to go, and never really broke a sweat from there. By the end of the second half, the Golden Eagles outscored Edinboro 51-29 in the final 20 minutes.
Clarion’s stunning rally ended abruptly ended the career of Fighting Scots star Henri Wade-Chatman. Wade-Chatman finished tied with Anthony for a game-high 24 points, and now sits ninth all-time in Fighting Scots history with 1,397 points. The thing that may have hurt the Fighting Scots the most was an off game from leading-scorer, Jaymon Mason, finishing with just seven points and only two field goals made. Edinboro loses Wade-Chatman, but will still be challenging for the PSAC West crown with Mason leading the way for the next two seasons. As for the Golden Eagles, they will travel back to Erie County Tuesday to face the Mercyhurst Lakers in the quarterfinals, looking to keep their Cinderella run going.
Pitt-Johnstown 81 Seton Hill 72: To say the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cats three-point shooting is on fire right now is an understatement. After ending Slippery Rock’s season on Wednesday mostly from their three-point shooting, it ended Seton Hill’s season Saturday night by a score of 81-72 in similar fashion. The Mountain Cats finished with 10 three-pointers totaling to a 58.5 percent clip from beyond the arc. Seton Hill actually made one more three-pointer and attempted seven more than the Mountain Cats, but the difference was simply UPJ making these shots when they needed to.
Seton Hill led most of the first half, but an 8-0 UPJ run with seven minutes left in the half propelled the Mountain Cats to a five-point lead at halftime. Out of the locker room, UPJ stormed out to a 12-point lead to position them to possibly pull away in the second half. With their backs against the wall, the Griffins turned to their leading scorer, Kameron Taylor, to save their season. Taylor led a furious Griffin comeback to regain the lead by two with just more than 10 minutes to play. A few minutes later, the teams were tied at 57 before UPJ led a decisive 7-0 run to seal control of the first round contest for good.
The Mountain Cats had four players score in double digits Saturday, led by a game-high 21 points from Isaac Vescovi. UPJ leading scorer, A.J. Leahey, finished just behind Vescovi with 16 points including a perfect 4-4 from three-point range. Seton Hill saw Taylor end his illustrious career with a team-high 16 points and 13 rebounds, earning one last double-double. Just like Seton Hill’s women’s team, the Griffin men lose just one player to graduation, setting up a more experienced team to challenge for a PSAC West title. Now with their first ever PSAC postseason win checked off, the Mountain Cats will set their sights on the PSAC west champion IUP Crimson Hawks in a road quarterfinal matchup Tuesday night. IUP ended the Mountain Cats season a year ago in the first round of the PSAC playoffs.