Three of the five games played in the region on Thursday were decided by a deuce, and we begin the rundown with a milestone in the City of Brotherly Love:
HOLY FAMILY 84 LINCOLN 82
Ryan Haigh earned his first head coaching win as Holy Family held off Lincoln (PA) at the Campus Center. Five double-figure scorers highlighted an extremely balanced scoresheet as the Tigers took control with a 19-6 run that flipped a 51-49 deficit into a 68-57 lead with 8:11 to play. The Lions - who were led by Deonta Dunlap's 21-point explosion off the bench (exclusively on 7-of-10 shooting from 3-point range) - used an 18-9 counter-run to climb within a basket (77-75) after a jumper by Zahrion Blue (20 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists) with 3:40 left. They would get no closer, however, as Eric Esposito (14 points, six rebounds in a reserve role) nailed a jumper and Devon Moore a three-ball to quell the momentum. Brendan Hoban iced the game with a pair of free throws at the six-second mark, relegating Blue's closing 3-pointer a mere footnote. Hoban, Moore and Vincenzo Dalessandro all recorded 13 points and six rebounds, while Branden Aughburns also scored a baker's dozen. Haigh had been an assistant at Holy Family the last eight seasons and was one of the program's most outstanding players, racking up 1,679 points (fifth-most) from 2002-06 while also placing in the Top 10 in assists, steals and 3-pointers.
DAEMEN 67 MERCYHURST 65
A pair of schools situated on the shores of Lake Erie played a whale of a game in Buffalo. Breon Harris capped a frustrating, foul-plagued night with a tiebreaking basket at the 38-second juncture - his only hoop of the contest - that helped #22 Daemen shade Mercyhurst for its fourth straight win, snapping a five-game dry spell in the annual series as a result. Andrew Sischo (21 points, 8-12 FG, 11 rebounds) and Joey Wallace (18 points) did the heavy lifting for the Wildcats, who had last beaten the defending Atlantic Region champs, 69-63, on November 23, 2013. The game was super tight, with six ties, 14 lead changes and only a two-possession separation all night with the exception of one 31-second swath in the first half when the visitors opened up a 19-11 lead (five was the largest margin over the last 29:26). After Harris' leaner, Joel Ufele (16 points, six rebounds) had a chance to tie at the line with seven seconds remaining but could only muster one out of two. Jay Sarkis followed suit at the stripe with four seconds on the clock. On Mercyhurst's last possession, MiyKah McIntosh (10 points, all in the second half) caught the inbounds pass, speed-dribbled upcourt and launched a right-wing three for the win that rolled off the rim as time expired. Kyle Harris (11 bench points on 5-of-5 shooting) and Sarkis (10 points, 2-2 from 3) also made impacts for Daemen, which won despite being outshot from the floor (51%-46%). Coincidentally, the Wildcats' only loss this season came at the hands of defending national champion Northwest Missouri State, which ended Mercyhurst's dream season at the Elite-8 last March.
EDINBORO 67 ROBERTS WESLEYAN 65
Just 58 miles East on the Thruway in Rochester, Roberts Wesleyan found itself on the short end of a two-point game vs. a PSAC West school, falling to Edinboro (PA) thanks to Turner Kurt's bank shot in the paint with 15 seconds to go that put the Fighting Scots on top to stay at 66-65. Another air-tight contest saw the visitors enjoy the largest lead of the night at 49-40 with 13-and-a-half minutes left. It was 56-50 when the Redhawks rattled off an 8-0 spurt to nose in front, 58-56 on an Armon Nasseri basket with 6:15 to play. That would be the first of eight lead changes down the stretch (along with three ties), with Roberts unable to get a winning shot off in its final possession. Jaryn Simpson totaled 18 points and four assists for Edinboro, which was the more accurate shooting club (43%-34%). Nasseri paced the Redhawks with 24 points and career-best 17 rebounds, while Reggie Clark chimed in with 17 points in a losing cause.
NYACK 88 NEW YORK TECH 80
Kennith Ford led five in double digits with 22 points (8-11 FG, 2-2 from distance) in carrying Nyack past New York Tech at Recreation Hall. After seven first-half lead swaps, the Warriors rode a 10-0 wave to surge in front for good at 30-24 with 4:15 remaining till halftime. The lead was 56-51 just over nine minutes into the second when Luis Escobar (10 points off the bench) drilled a triple to kick off a 24-11 burst and put the visitors in the driver's seat at 80-62 with 3:21 on the clock. The Bears - who were powered by Jeffrey Hayden (27 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and Brandon Redendo (18 points in reserve duty) - trimmed the deficit to 86-80 on a Hayden 3-ball, but with three seconds to play, it was too little, too late. Curtis Thompson racked up 20 points (8-10 FG) off the bench for Nyack, which also received solid outings from Thomas Nolan (11 points) and Perris Hicks (10). The Warriors were the superior shooters (50%-41%) and outscored their hosts 16-7 off turnovers. The game got chippy in the second half as two players were ejected: one for a flagrant foul and another for throwing a punch.
MILLERSVILLE 98 WILMINGTON 87
Jayden Faulkner amassed 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to lead five in twin figures as Millersville (PA) won a track meet vs. Wilmington at Pucillo Gym, snapping a three-year skid in the series. The Marauders trailed just once on the evening (3-2) before racing out to a 39-24 lead. A 22-7 second-half run stretched the gap to 66-47 in the second before the Wildcats countered with a 20-9 upswing to get within striking distance at 75-67 following a Tyler Norwood basket in the paint with 5:53 left. That's as close as the Cats would get, however, despite noteworthy efforts from Jermaine Head (27 points, four assists), Norwood (17 points, six rebounds), Jordan Harding (13 points) and Danny Walsh (12 points on 5-of-7 shooting). Millersville shot it better (56%-45%) and dished out nearly three times as many assists (19-7).