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Men’s and Women’s Basketball Clinch Spots in MAC Freedom Tournament Policy

Anthony Vega, Reporter

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As the season comes to an end, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are set on making a deep playoff run this postseason. Both teams have clinched playoff spots with games still on the schedule.

The men’s team has now made the MAC Freedom tournament in eight consecutive seasons. This is the first time the women’s team will make the playoffs since they won the conference tournament back in the 2011-2012 season.

The women’s team,  led by Seniors Shannon Croasdale and Justine Seely, will finish the season with a winning record and mark the first playoff appearance for everyone on the team. With the impressive 59-52 overtime win over DeSales University on Valentine’s Day, the team was able to clinch the number two seed in the MAC Freedom Tournament. Not only is the team making the playoffs for the first time in five years, but they will also be playing at home in the Anderson Center.

Seely believes that earning the two seed is important to the team.

“I think it’s important to have the home crowd because it brings a different type of energy,” Seely said. “It makes you realize how many people are supporting you and rooting for you and that makes you play so much better.”

The V-Day victory was the first time the women’s team was able to beat DeSales at their home court since 1998. They were able to squeeze out the overtime victory from a record-tying performance from Seely. Seely was able to finish the game with 25 rebounds, tying the university record set by Assistant Coach Christine Marks back in 2010. Sophomore Japriya Carroll also led offensively with 17 points.

The Lady Cougars were voted by the MAC Freedom coaches to finished seventh in the conference, ahead of only one team, at the beginning of the season. It is safe to say they have surprised the conference by achieving double-digit conference wins.

Seely believes the success is because players believe in themselves.

“I think it’s that we all really want the championship this year. We finally realize how good we are and want to show others that. Shannon and I came in this year with the attitude that this is it for us, and we don’t want to leave the program with the reputation it had in the past. We as a team want to be respected for the hard work we put in and be known as winners.”

For Seely, making it to the playoffs during her last season of college basketball is bittersweet.

“It’s been a good four years that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Seely said. “I wish we would have been successful before now but it’s great to have this type of season as a senior, especially when no one expected it out of us.”

The men’s team is looking to avenge last season’s heartbreaking home playoff loss. The team was unable to beat Delaware Valley, losing 58-57. In the regular season this year, the men have yet to beat the Delaware Valley team, losing both games so far.

Jason Kenny, last season’s MAC Freedom Rookie of the Year has not forgotten about the postseason loss.

“Everyone worked so hard to get to that point, but that just gives us more motivation going into this year’s playoffs. Luckily we didn’t have any seniors last year so nobody’s career had to end that way but this year is a different story and we are ready,” Kenny said.

He said players are more mature this year.

“We have a bunch of seniors who do not want their season to end. Coach Chandler has a year under his belt, so he is more comfortable in his position. We are closer as a team this year, in my opinion, than we were last year, which really helps.”

The men’s team clinched a postseason berth Feb. 11 after defeating Wilkes at home on senior day. This year’s team is led by a three-headed scoring machine, which includes Kenny and two newcomers to the roster. Junior Tre Fields has started every game so far this season, averaging 14.4 points per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. Freshman standout Tony Harding leads the team with 7.1 rebounds per game, while averaging 15.2 points per game. Harding also plays the most, with an average of 31.6 minutes per game.

The team has already surpassed last year’s win total. Kenny believes coaches put the team is in a better position than they were a year ago.

“Everyone is bought in, and our hard work is paying off. We have great chemistry on the court, and everyone understand their role.”

The men’s team ,clinched, at worst, the fourth seed in this year’s playoff tournament. If they are the fourth seed, they will play a home game against the fifth seed.

With both teams having a legitimate chance at playing home playoff games, and Kenny said it is important to have a strong showing of support for both the teams as they try to taking home MAC Freedom Championships.

“It is always beneficial to have the crow in your favor and the student body here at Misericordia is so supportive,” Kenny said.  “It makes the game more fun when we have a big crowd.”

 

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Men’s and Women’s Basketball Clinch Spots in MAC Freedom Tournament Policy