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Lycoming men defeat DeSales to advance to MAC Freedom championship game

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Senior Matt Ilodigwe scored a season-high 25 points, closing the game with three free throws in the final 13 seconds to lead the fifth-seeded Lycoming College men’s basketball team past the top-seeded DeSales University, 65-61, in the MAC Freedom Championship semifinals on Friday.

The Warriors (17-10 overall) advance to their third straight conference championship game and will head to No. 2-seed Stevens Institute of Technology on Sunday at 2 p.m. Stevens defeated sixth-seeded Misericordia, 75-64, in the other semifinal on Friday.

Lycoming, which also beat DeSales (22-5 overall) in the 2021 MAC Freedom Championship and Arcadia in the 2020 MAC Commonwealth Championship, shot just 41% from the field (21 of 51), but a 12-7 advantage in free throws and 11-2 advantage in 3-pointers helped the Warriors knock off Region IV’s second-ranked team.

After Ilodigwe hit the front end of two free throws with 13 seconds left, junior Mo Terry followed the DeSales point guard as he flew toward the baseline and then watched as the ball flew across it, with his defense forcing the biggest turnover of the season. Ilodigwe received the inbounds and hit both of his free throws with two seconds left to ensure the win.

After a pair of free throws from junior Dyson Harward gave Lycoming a 62-57, DeSales cut the lead down to a point with 21 seconds left off a pair of layups, setting up the foul of Ilodigwe with 13 seconds left to put the Warriors up a pair.

Ilodigwe finished with 25 points and two steals, as he hit 6 of 11 from 3-point range to pace the win, while Harward tied the school-record with his 16th double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds, also becoming the first Warrior since 1966 (Ron Travis, 334) to grab 300 rebounds in a season with his 11th of the night, joining just eight Warriors in the exclusive club.

The teams worked through eight lead changes and four ties in the second half’s first 14:30 before Harward hit the front end of a 1-and-1 before junior DeAundre Manuel hit a floater in the lane. DeSales cut the lead to two points twice and then Harward hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night with 3:09 to make it 59-54, and the Warriors got the lead to five points with 2:02 left, setting up the dramatic end.

The first half started as another terse defensive battle, with the teams splitting 18 points in the first seven minutes before the Bulldogs went on a 10-1 run that gave them a 19-9 lead with 9:06 left. Sophomore Steven Hamilton hit a step-back jumper to ignite an 11-1 run in response that helped Lycoming take a 21-20 lead after 3-pointer from Harward. A lead change and a tie later, Ilodigwe put the Warriors up with a 3-pointer from the corner off a turnover, helping the Warriors take a 26-25 lead into the break.

Hamilton finished with eight points and Manuel posted five points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Terry also notched four assists.

Timmy Edwards and Matt Kachelries each had 14 points to lead the Bulldogs, who shot 48% (26 of 54) from the floor, but just 15% from three (2 of 13). Edwards posted six rebounds.

LYCOMING (17-10)

DeAundre Manuel 2-7 1-2 5; Dyson Harward 5-12 6-8 21; Mo Terry 1-6 0-1 2; Steven Hamilton 3-9 2-4 8; Matt Ilodigwe 8-14 3-4 25; Mavin James 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 21-51 12-19 65.

DESALES (22-5)

Timmy Edwards 6-14 2-4 14; Keba Mitchell 2-3 0-0 4; Matt Kachelries 6-9 2-2 14; Mike Bealer 1-4 0-0 3; Dat Lambert 2-6 1-2 6; Mason Barnes 4-7 1-3 9; Jordan Holmqvist 0-0 0-0 0; Ryan Boylan 1-2 0-0 2; Elijah Eberly 1-3 1-2 3; Will Bowen 3-5 0-0 6; Christian Guldin 0-1 0-0 0; Claeb Gibbs 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 7-13 61.

Halftime: Lycoming 26-25. 3-point goals: Lycoming 11-26 (Harward 5-9, Ilodigwe 6-11, Hamilton 0-3, Terry 0-3), DeSales 2-13 (Bealer 1-4, Lambert 1-4, Edwards 0-1, Kachelries 0-2, Barnes 0-2). Fouled out: Lycoming-none; DeSales-none. Rebounds: Lycoming 32 (Harward 12, Manuel 10), DeSales 33 (Edwards 6). Assists: Lycoming 14 (Manuel 4), DeSales 11 (Kachelries 3). Technical fouls: Lycoming-none; DeSales-none. Total fouls: Lycoming 15, DeSales 19. A: 300.

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