March 5, 2009

Courtesy of DeSales

Center Valley, PA (March 5, 2009) – Survive and advance. It’s a cliché heard many times throughout March Madness and the DeSales University men’s basketball team did just that earning its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 86-78, in front of a capacity crowd in Billera Hall on Thursday evening.

The Bulldogs (23-5 overall) did not really survive on Thursday night as they trailed for just 24 seconds all night, but they certainly did advance, shooting 47.5 percent from the field and holding the high-powered Golden Eagles (24-4 overall) offense to just 25 points in the first half as they opened up a 15-point halftime lead and led by six or more points throughout the entire second half.

The first 10 minutes saw both teams going back-and-forth as each team tried to get a feel for the other’s style of play. Tied at 13 as the clock ticked under 11 minutes, DSU used a 9-0 run to take a 22-13 lead with 7:48 to go. DeSales held SJC scoreless for about four and a half minutes and four different Bulldogs scored including junior Darnell Braswell (Allentown, PA/William Allen) with a three-pointer during the run.

Leading by eight at the 5:34 mark, junior Rob Schubach (Center Valley, PA/Southern Lehigh), who was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field on the night, ignited an 11-3 run that pushed the lead to 16 points (38-22) before both teams settled for the 15-point DeSales advantage entering the locker rooms.

The Bulldogs torched the nets shooting 15-of-30 from the field in the opening half and continued to play strong defense as they have all season, holding the Golden Eagles to just 30.0 percent (9-for-30) from the field in the opening half. Braswell led all scorers with 11 points and DSU enjoyed a 24-12 edge on the glass over the first twenty minutes.

The second half saw St. Joseph’s come out of the locker room with some bounce to its step. Three free throws from senior David Acree were followed by consecutive lay-ups from senior JJ Walsh and all of a sudden the lead was down to eight points with 15:20 to go. Schubach, who hit several big shots all night, answered the mini-spurt with a three from the left corner and the game went back-and-forth over the next 11 minutes.

DeSales still led by 11 (68-57) with 4:12 remaining when Acree started a quick 5-0 run with a three-pointer and senior Chris Niblock worked hard for a lay-up down on the low block to pull the Golden Eagles within six at the 3:20 mark.

One free throw each from Braswell and sophomore Brian Hunter (Allentown, PA/Emmaus) pushed the lead back to eight and Niblock and senior Ed Lapinski (Red Hill, PA/Upper Perkiomen) traded lay-ups to keep it an eight-point game with 2:13 to go. A three-point miss from Acree forced SJC into fouling and the Bulldogs were up to the task hitting 12-of-16 free throws over the final two minutes to ice the game and earn the win.

Braswell and Lapinski each recorded double-doubles in the win as Braswell finished with 23 points and 10 boards (his seventh double-double of the season) and Lapinski totaled 21 points and 11 pulls for his eight double-double dip of the year. Hunter finished with 15 points and dished out five assists, while Schubach came off the bench to score an important 11 points.

Walsh and freshman Chris Jimenez each totaled 21 points and Walsh recorded a double-double with 11 boards in the loss. Acree also reached double figures with 16 points.

The Bulldogs will now advance to the second round where they will face Ithaca College. Ithaca received a first-round bye in the tournament. Game time is set for 7:00 pm on Saturday evening at Ithaca. Ticket prices will be $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for students. For those unable to attend you have several options to follow the game's progress including LIVE Stats, Live Audio, and a LIVE Webcast of the game.