March 7, 2009

Courtesy DeSales University

ITHACA, NY - Junior Darnell Braswell (Allentown, PA/William Allen) scored a career-high 27 points and tied his career-high with 13 rebounds leading the DeSales University men's basketball team past Ithaca College, 77-71, and into the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday evening in Ben Light Gymnasium.

The Bulldogs (24-5 overall), appearing in just their second-ever NCAA Tournament, advance to play UMASS-Dartmouth in the "Sweet 16" on Friday, March 13th at a site to be determined tomorrow afternoon. This will be DSU's first-ever appearance in the sectional round of the big dance.

The Bombers (24-4 overall) started the game strong jumping out to a 10-point lead twice with the last coming at the 9:46 mark, 23-13. DSU chipped away at the lead getting to within five on a Braswell triple, but IC's Chris Cruz answered with a trey of his own to push the lead up to eight points out of a media timeout.

A minute clicked off the clock with neither team scoring a point before Braswell hit a short jumper igniting a 9-0 run that gave DSU its first lead of the game at 29-28 and turned Ben Light Gymnasium into a Bulldogs home game. Braswell scored four points and sophomore Brian Hunter (Allentown, PA/Emmaus) had five points including a deep three-pointer during the spurt.

The game went back-and-forth over the next few minutes with DeSales leading by as many as four points but Ithaca used an 8-2 run over the final 2:20 to take a 39-37 lead into the locker room. The Bulldogs shot 55.6 percent from the field in the opening half, while the Bombers converted just 42.1 percent including a 6-for-21 effort from deep.

The second half was all Bulldogs. Trailing by three, 46-43, early in the first half Braswell jump started a 24-7 Bulldogs run with a three-pointer. The spurt lasted just over 12 minutes and saw DSU take its largest lead of the game (14 points) at the 4:47 mark. Five different players scored during the spurt including Braswell with 11 points and senior Ed Lapinski (Red Hill, PA/Upper Perkiomen) with six tallies.

DeSales continued to lead by 14 at the 4:11 mark when Ithaca made a small run at the Bulldogs. A three-pointer from Bredan Rogers was followed by back-to-back lay-ups from Jeff Bostic and Sean Burton and the lead was down to five points with 1:28 left. Forced to foul, junior Jim Malatesta (Warminster, PA/Archbishop Wood) made one free throw to push the lead back up to six points and Braswell and Hunter went 7-for-10 over the final minute at the line to ice the win and the "Sweet 16" berth.

Braswell made an All-American case for himself on Saturday night recording his eighth double-double of the season with a career-high in points and rebounds. He has now scored 20+ points in six straight games and also found time to defend All-American Sean Burton of Ithaca, forcing him into a 6-for-18 shooting night and seven turnovers.

Lapinski tallied his ninth double-double of the year and his fourth in a row with 18 points and 13 boards, Malatesta tied his career-high with 14 points, and Hunter finished with 13 points and six assists in the win.

Burton finished with 15 points and also dished out 11 assists, but was just 3-for-11 from three-point land. Rogers had a team-high 17 points, Cruz added 12 points, Jordan Marcus tallied 10 points off the bench and Jeff Bostic had nine points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

The NCAA will announce the four "Sweet 16" sites on Sunday afternoon. You can find out where the Bulldogs will be playing on the DSU web site after the announcement.