By Anthony Mitchell
The Daily Item
J.T. Wilson’s jumper rimmed out as time expired and Susquehanna suffered a one-point loss to King’s (Pa.) in the Pepsi Tip-Off Tournament championship game, 44-43, Saturday.
Out of a timeout with 14.6 seconds remaining, Wilson attempted a shot that missed but was knocked out of bounds to Susquehanna (1-1). On the inbounds play with three ticks left, Wilson received a pass at the top of the key, dribbled to his right and hoisted a potential game-winning shot but the iron was unkind.
“We wanted to look inside because, down one, I wanted to go to the free-throw line,” Crusaders head coach Frank Marcinek said. “We didn’t quite get where we wanted to, but we had a good shot, got it out of bounds, had another good shot. For as poorly as we played, if you make a shot, you’re saying, ‘Wow, what great heart, what great desire.’”
The tournament was a tale of two games for the Crusaders as the offense fired on all cylinders for Marcinek in a 104-50 win over Penn College in Friday’s semifinal round, but struggled against the Monarchs (2-0) in the final.
“The credit has to go to (King’s) defense, because we couldn’t score on them,” Marcinek said.
“I said to (the players) in the locker that I thought we competed,” he added. “I thought we obviously played until the last second. I didn’t think we executed worth diddly on the offensive end.
“It’s a disappointing loss.”
To pull within one point, the Crusaders went on a 10-1 run in the final 4:16 of Saturday’s game following a dunk by King’s Tim O’Shea out of a Crusaders timeout.
The Crusaders worked the ball inside late in the game to claw back with a layup from Tre Dean and a three-point play from Tony Seldon with under a minute remaining.
Dean led the Crusaders offensively with a double-double, as he scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The freshman added two blocks.
Defense ruled the game from the opening tip as both teams combined to score fewer points than the Crusaders poured in Friday night. Neither team was able to take control of the game as shooting woes and physical play in the paint kept points off of the board.
The Crusaders struggled to find a rhythm on the floor and from the foul line, shooting just 42 percent from the stripe. Each team committed 21 turnovers.
“Free throw shooting, obviously, was an Achilles heel,” Marcinek said. “There were times at the midpoint of the game where the ball looked like it had grease on it, where we couldn’t handle it.”
The game was tied at 23 at halftime when Mike Perillo drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Crusaders. The tie was the closest the Crusaders came to taking a lead in the game.
Two technical fouls on the Monarchs in the final 30 seconds of the first half allowed the Crusaders to finish on a 7-0 run.
The Monarchs gradually built their lead in the third quarter. A steal and layup by Josh Miller ended a 10-minute drought without a field goal to start the second half for the Crusaders.
PSU-Harrisburg 65,Susquehanna 61
SELINSGROVE — PSU-Harrisburg (1-0) held on for a victory, icing the Pepsi Tip-Off Tournament semifinal with two free throws by Miranda Zeanchock with under a minute remaining.
The Crusaders (0-2) attempted to cut the deficit on their final possession but were unable to score.
The Lady Lions held a 27-4 edge in foul shots made, providing the difference in a see-saw battle.
“(PSU-Harrisburg) played very hard,” Crusaders head coach Jim Reed said. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to them. We fouled way too much. We’ve got to play better defensively, in terms of containing the ball.”
Zeanchock scored a game-high 17 points, making her presence felt after she was fouled by converting 8 of her 11 free throw attempts.
The Lady Lions closed the game on a 6-0 run after Shannon Grunwald gave the Crusaders a 61-59 lead with a 3-pointer.
The final six points were all converted at the foul line, pouring salt into the wound late in the action.
Down the stretch, neither team was able to separate itself as defensive pressure on both sides increased.
In the second half, an eight-point Lady Lions’ lead two minutes in was the largest advantage of the game as both teams traded points.
The Crusaders were in control early in the game, starting the game on a 10-1 run, but the Lady Lions stayed within single digits and did not allow Susquehanna to pull away.