By William Bowman
The Daily Item
Frank Marcinek admitted he isn’t quite sure where his Susquehanna men’s basketball team is heading this season but he likes the steps they took Saturday afternoon.
After a mixed first half of Saturday’s Landmark Conference game against Drew, the Crusaders found the right mix after the break. Leading by 3 at half, Susquehanna stepped on the gas and left the Rangers in its wake in the final 20 minutes, outscoring Drew by 23 points as it rolled to an impressive 72-46 victory at O.W. Houts Gymnasium.
Eleven different players scored for SU (5-8, 1-1 Landmark), led by a dozen from Harley Sellinger. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that the Crusaders had 25 assists on 29 field goals, including nine from Mike Perillo and eight from Brandon Hedley.
“Our record really doesn’t indicate the type of team we hope to be,” said Marcinek. “We can play choppy at times because we have so many young guys out there, but we have so much potential. Maybe the second half is what we are capable of.”
If it is, then the Crusaders have a shot to contend in the Landmark as they steamrolled past an explosive Drew squad in the second half.
The teams traded big runs in the opening half — a 10-0 spurt by SU answered by a 12-2 run by the Rangers — and Susquehanna hit intermission with a 24-21 lead.
Senior J.T. Wilson, who struggled to find his shot in the first half, hit a 3-pointer less than a minute into the second. Two minutes later he hit another.
When the Rangers got within six, the Crusaders went on another 12-2 run. Hedley, a freshman, started the run with a jumper and capped it a pair of 3-pointers and Drew never got within 10 the rest of the way.
Nine different Crusaders scored at least five points and Susquehanna’s bench outscored Drew by a dozen and accounted for 20 points in the second half.
“We weren’t making any jump shots in the first half and in the second half we started to make some of them,” said Marcinek. “And our bench played tremendous. We have a lot of young guys who can play and you saw them step up in the second half.”
And while the Crusaders put up nearly 50 points in the second half, their defense was just as impressive. Drew entered the game averaging nearly 68 points a game and had three players — Mike Klinger, John Ford and Luke Glass — tied for second in the league in 3-point shooting with 29 makes each. The Rangers made just three 3-pointers all night and Glass and Klinger, who combine for more than 32 points a game, managed just six between them on 3-of-20 shooting.
“I have to give a ton of credit to my assistant Chad Bailey. He had the scout on this one and he did a heck of a job,” said Marcinek. “The guys were ready and went out and executed.”
Drew 62, Susquehanna 52, OT
After a 16-0 run by the Crusaders gave SU a 13-point lead, the Rangers outscored Susquehanna 28-5 over the final nine minutes of regulation and overtime to steal a Landmark Conference win.
Susquehanna led 47-34 with 9:50 left after five quick points from Jonaida Williams, but it managed just five points the rest of regulation and then was shut out 10-0 in the extra session.
Williams led the Crusaders with 14 points and eight rebounds while Mariah Monahan added 13. Gina Palazzi just missed a double-double for SU with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Susquehanna turned the ball over 24 times and made just 8-of-20 free throws.