EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. -– Led by 29 points from senior Mathis Keita, the Crimson Hawks edged out Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East rival West Chester 75-68 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Keita earned 16 of his points from the free throw line, setting a new school record for free throws made in an NCAA game. The previous mark of 12 was set by Steve Menifee in 2000. Keita went 16-of-23 from the line.
Three Crimson Hawks finished the game in double figures with Marcel Souberbielle and Brandon Norfleet each contributing 11.
IUP jumped out to a 5-0 lead after quick back-to-back buckets from Jeremy Jeffers and Norfleet. The stingy IUP defense kept the Golden Rams off the scoresheet through more than two and a half minutes of play.
Over the first three minutes, the Crimson Hawks outscored West Chester 9-2.
The Golden Rams were able to tie the game at 11-11 with 13:33 remaining in the half, after Ryan McKeaney drained his only points on the afternoon.
The two teams exchanged baskets over the next few minutes, with neither team able to gain a dominant lead. With the Crimson Hawks down by one, Cornell Yarde II , in his first start of the season, hit a three ball the gave IUP the 20-18 lead. That started an 18-6 run that would give IUP the 35-24 lead with a bit more than two minutes remaining in the half.
The Golden Rams were able to battle back and pull within six of the Crimson Hawks lead, as IUP headed into the break with the 37-31 advantage.
West Chester came out hot in the second half, pulling within two of the IUP lead.
A dunk from Norfleet with just over 13 minutes to play capped off a 12-5 IUP run that gave the tournament's third seed the 50-41 lead.
The Crimson Hawks saw their lead cut to just three with 10:37 remaining when West Chester's Shannon Givens hit two free throws following a foul on Jeffers. The two teams went up and down the court with West Chester getting within one point of the IUP lead with 2:43 to play.
A three from Keita would be the only points scored for nearly two minutes until Devante Chance hit one of two free throws with 37 second to go, giving IUP the 71-66 advantage. Givens drained two free throws of his own with 24 seconds on the clock, pulling within three.
IUP sealed West Chester's fate as Souberbielle and Norfleet each nailed a pair of free throws, giving IUP the 75-68 victory, the 24th NCAA tournament in school history.
Keita finished the afternoon with 29 points, seven rebounds and two assists. The senior was 5-of-10 from the floor, 3-of-5 from behind the arc and 16-of-23 from the free-throw line.
Norfleet added 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal, shooting 3-of-6 from the floor, 1-of-2 from three ball range and 4-of-4 from the line. Souberbielle also added 11 points, in addition to one rebound, one assist and one block. He shot 2-of-5 from the floor, 1-of-1 from three-point range and went 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
As a team, IUP shot 43.9 percent from the field, helped out by their 50 percent in the second half. They outshot the Golden Rams who finished the afternoon shooting 36.7 percent.