March 14, 2009

Courtesy of Kutztown Athletics

ERIE, Pa. — Stephen Dennis (jr. West Chester/Henderson) scored 31 points to lead the Kutztown University men’s basketball team to its first NCAA Division II tournament win with a 99-88 first-round win over West Virginia State Saturday at Hammermill Center.

Dennis poured in 21 of his 31 points in the second half as the Golden Bears (27-4) overcame a six-point deficit midway through the second to advance to the Atlantic Region semifinals where they’ll face the winner of the Indiana (Pa.) and Virginia Union matchup at 5 p.m. Sunday.

One of five KU players in double figures, Dennis scored eight straight points to lead the Golden Bears out of a six-point hole and into a two-point lead at 60-58 with 11:41 left.

West Virginia State (24-6) trailed the rest of the way as KU pushed it to a double-digit lead with a huge 3-pointer from Julius Gray (so. Lincoln/Oxford), one of his two of the game.

Gray, who finished with 10 points, was set up in the corner for the big 3 by Ryan Washington (so. Philadelphia/Wissahickon).

Washington drove into the paint acting like he was going to lay it in and at the last second, he dished it out to the right corner where Gray was standing for the big 3.

Washington finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Andre Woodlin (sr. Philadelphia/Central), who totaled 14 points — seven of which came from the free-throw line — led the Golden Bears with seven assists.

KU used several cuts to the basket to set up points early, including a long pass from Woodlin to Dennis leading to a dunk and a 4-4 tie early on. The Golden Bears built up a seven-point lead at 13-6 early, but West Virginia State stuck around with tough shooting of Darren Jones and Ted Scott, who combined for 59 points in the game.

The Golden Bears led 43-39 at halftime and pushed their lead to six points early in the second half, but a 13-1 run by the Yellow Jackets gave them a 58-52 lead with 13:58 left.

Dennis took over from there leading KU to its school record 27th win of the season.

Dave Ben (sr. Coatesville/Coatesville) finished with 13 points and Mark Bower (sr. West Deptford, N.J./West Deptford) had 11, including two early 3-pointers.

Ben’s 13 points moves him to within 11 of 2,000 for his career.

KU shot 55 percent for the game, including an unstoppable 69.6 percent in the second half.