Saints Handle Statesmen, 109-90, to Win Liberty League Tournament
Feb. 27: The St. Lawrence University men's basketball team had fans erupting Saturday in the Burkman Gymnasium, as they topped Hobart, 109-90 in the Conference Championship game to take home the Liberty League Tournament Title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Saints improve to a 16-11 (10-4) record, while the Statesmen end their season with a final mark of 17-10 (9-6).
Sophomore Ralph Temgoua was named Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament, earning 21 points, off 8-of-18 shooting and 3-of-7 from the arc, as well as a game-high eight rebounds. Senior captain Andy Hoercher was also named a member of the All-Tournament team, posting a game-high 22 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 from the arc. First-year Nick Meunier also had an impressive performance, racking up 18 points and six rebounds, while senior captain Josh Sharlow led the Saints in assists with seven. Hobart's Matt Pebole and Stefan Thompson were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Pebole and Tim Llewellyn earned a team-high 19 points, while Thompson racked up 15 points off 5-of-12 shooting and a game-high nine assists. Both Adam Salzmann and Rezin Davis also tallied a team-high five rebounds.
In the opening ten minutes of the first half, both teams battled point for point, with the lead changing two times and the score being tied another three. With Hobart leading by two points (17-15) at the 12:28 mark, sophomore Jon Goldberg tipped in the ball to tie the score at 17 and spark a 6-0 run for St. Lawrence. Although Thompson managed to hit a nice jump-shot, Sharlow responded with a three to give the Saints their first double-digit lead of the game. From this point, St. Lawrence continued to pick up momentum off consistent shooting from sophomore Garrett Sharlow, Temgoua, and Hoercher. With 4:53 remaining in the half, the Saints had moved out to a 15 point lead as sophomore Terry Parham chipped one in off the glass. The Statesmen were able to cut the deficit to 11, after Thompson posted four off a layup and a jumper, but Garrett Sharlow was accurate from the arc and extended the margin to 14 points (43-29). Hobart's Greg Stern followed suit with a minute on the clock to bring his team back within 11 points, but a layup from Parham made the score 47-34 as both teams entered the locker room.
The second half brought even more intensity and momentum to the court from both opponents. Within the first minute and a half, Hobart had worked their way back to within 11 (49-38), but a solid three-pointer from Hoercher, paired with a layup from Meunier put the Saints back ahead by 16 (56-40). Although Hobart's Llewellyn responded with a layup and a three, Temgoua was there to follow suit and with 14:40 left in regulation, the Saints took a 20 point lead (65-45).
However, they couldn't get too comfortable yet. With 12:58 on the clock, Hobart's Salzmann nailed a three to spark a 7-0 run for his team, bringing the Statesmen back within 11 points of matching the score (69-58). And just as the clock hit ten minutes to go, Rezin Davis tipped one in from underneath to make it a ten point game. It proved to be Hobart's consistent three-point shooting that kept them in striking distance as Pebole, Greg Stern and Davis shot impressively from the arc. However, the Saints drove the basket well and consistently found rebounds that led to baskets. With 5:53 on the clock, Josh Sharlow passed to Meunier who slam dunked the ball to illuminate Burkman Gymnasium and put the Saints up by 20 (90-70). The dynamic duo impressed again when just a few minutes later Sharlow sent Meunier a behind the back pass that ended in a nice layup.
With 2:49 left in the contest, the St. Lawrence bench players entered the game and kept the enthusiasm high. They managed to maintain a comfortable advantage, until Llewellyn drained two threes to bring Hobart back within 11 points (96-83) a minute later. However, layups from rookies Kyle Miller and Corey Begly put the Saints back ahead by 17 (106-89) and with 40 seconds left in regulation, Miller sealed the deal as he drained a three to send the Saints off the court celebrating a 109-90 victory.
"I'm really proud of how far we've come since the beginning of the year," St. Lawrence Head Coach Chris Downs said. "We're very excited to be playing in the NCAA Tournament."
The Saints' opponent and site for the game will be determined, Monday, March 1st.