Justin Reyes converted the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:41 to go and fifth-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas nailed seven straight free throws down the stretch in holding off former NAIA and CACC rival Saint Rose in snowy Syracuse to capture its first NCAA East Regional championship, punching its ticket to next week's Elite-8 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Spartans - who have now won nine straight and become the first non-NE10 team ever to go 7-0 vs. that power conference in a season - used their pressure to open up a 12-2 lead just over two minutes into the contest before going over six minutes without scoring another point. The Golden Knights - who struggled from the floor all game (39% compared to STAC's 46%) - could not draw even the rest of the period and saw a 34-26 halftime deficit extend to a game-high 42-30 gap after a Chaz Watler 3-pointer early in the second half. Tyler Sayre then rattled off 11 of his 26 points during a 21-4 Saint Rose attack that saw the #3 seed grab its largest lead - 51-46 - after a Chris Dorgler triple with 9:56 left. Aquinas battled back to force ties at 56 and 60 before a Dorgler lay-up gave the Knights their last lead at 62-60 with 2:07 remaining. Reyes responded with his huge 'And-1' 26 seconds later, then added two more foul shots at the 1:04 mark following a missed Jack Jones trey, giving the Spartans a 65-62 advantage. Dorgler scored again to make it a one-point game but James Mitchell was sent to the line and sank both of his attempts with 32 seconds to play, restoring the three-point margin at 67-64. Dorgler misfired on a tying 3-point attempt, but Jones (four points off the bench) followed it home with 18 seconds on the clock to make things tight yet again. Mitchell was fouled once more and connected twice to provide the final points as a deep 3-point try to tie by Mical-Ryan Boyd (six points) was off the mark just before the final horn. Reyes - who was named regional MVP - amassed 26 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for the winners, who also landed Watler (15 points, 4-5 from beyond the arc) and Shaq McFarlan (11 in a reserve role) in double figures. Sayre notched 18 of his 26 points after intermission while pulling down seven rebounds in his final collegiate contest, finishing as the program's #4 all-time scorer (1,825). Fellow lefty senior Dorgler bowed out with 12 points, seven boards and four assists for the Golden Knights, who won the glass (36-31) and outscored STAC 12-5 on second chances, to no avail. The loss was the first for Saint Rose in four NCAA regional finals (they won in 1996, 1998 and 1999), and this was the first all-New York regional championship match-up since Saint Rose outlasted then-NYCAC foe Adelphi, 72-67, at UAlbany in 1999. St. Thomas Aquinas will be seeded seventh in the national quarterfinals and will take on second-seeded and NABC #1 Northwest Missouri State at 6 pm next Wednesday at the Sanford Pentagon. The other games feature Fairmont State (WV) vs. Rollins (FL), Bellarmine (KY) vs. Colorado School of Mines and Lincoln Memorial (TN) vs. Chico State (CA). St. Thomas Aquinas will try to snap a 28-year dry spell for our region since Lowell won the 1988 National Championship.
Joe Mazzulla Named Head Men's Basketball Coach at Fairmont State - 1 month ago
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In my Daily Dirt earlier today, I mentioned that Joe Mazzulla was the leader for DII Fairmont State. It's now been made official. Fairmont State University Director of Athletics Tim McNeely announced today that Joe Mazzulla has been named the program's 12th head men's basketball coach. Mazzulla will be introduced to the Fairmont community at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29 during a press conference inside Joe Retton Arena. Following some opening comments from Coach Mazzulla, media members... [read more]
In my Daily Dirt earlier today, I mentioned that Joe Mazzulla was the leader for DII Fairmont State. It's now been made official. Fairmont State University Director of Athletics Tim McNeely announced today that Joe Mazzulla has been named the program's 12th head men's basketball coach. Mazzulla will be introduced to the Fairmont community at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29 during a press conference inside Joe Retton Arena. Following some opening comments from Coach Mazzulla, media members will have the opportunity to do one-on-one interviews. Members of the community are invited to attend. A former West Virginia University standout, Mazzulla spent five years coaching at the NCAA Division II level, including three at Fairmont State, before serving as an assistant coach in the NBA Development league last year. 'It is a privilege to welcome Joe back to Fairmont, and we couldn't be happier to have him as our next head men's basketball coach,' said McNeely. 'Joe is well known around the state of West Virginia from leading the Mountaineers to the Final Four, and he has had success at every stop of his young coaching career. 'Coming off a national runner-up season, we wanted to keep the continuity and team chemistry as strong as possible, and we believe Joe is the correct person to keep FSU basketball rolling in the right direction.' 'I am pleased to welcome Joe back to Fairmont State, and I have complete confidence that we have found a leader that can keep FSU basketball competing at the highest level,' said FSU President Maria Rose. Mazzulla most recently served as an assistant coach for the Maine Red Claws (an affiliate of the Boston Celtics) of the NBA Developmental League for the last year. Maine currently leads the Atlantic Division of the NBADL standings with a 28-19 overall record. Prior to his position with the Red Claws, Mazzulla was an assistant coach for three seasons on Jerrod Calhoun's staff at Fairmont State. During that time, the Falcons compiled a record of 67-26 with three 20-win seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. 'I would like to thank President Rose, Athletic Director Tim McNeely, Coach Jerrod Calhoun, the entire community of Fairmont and the current players at Fairmont State University for giving me the opportunity to take over the FSU basketball program,' said Mazzulla. 'It is very humbling to get this opportunity and I'm excited to come home and lead a program that is loved and supported by a group of passionate community members. Fairmont is a special place. 'I am excited to get back to work with the returning players and find ways that we can all get one percent better each day.' During his three year's on the coaching staff at Fairmont State, Mazzulla was instrumental in developing point guards Caleb Davis and Shammgod Wells into regular contributors and starters for the Falcon. Wells ended his career in 2017 as the school's all-time leader in both assists and steals. Davis started his first two seasons in Fairmont prior to becoming a key reserve for FSU as a junior in 2015-16. Davis started the first five games of the 2016-17 season before suffering a season-ending injury. Mazzulla was also key in the early development of point guard Jason Jolly, who served as the sixth-man for the Falcons in 2015-16 as a freshman. During that season, Jolly was fourth on the team in scoring (9.4) and made 52 three-pointers. Mazzulla started his coaching career by spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Glenville State. In his time with the Pioneers Mazzulla helped develop two All-WVIAC honorees and a pair of all-freshman team honorees. Prior to beginning his coaching career, Mazzulla played four seasons at West Virginia University for head coaches John Beilein and Bob Huggins. His teams made four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the Final Four in 2010. Mazzulla also won a Big East Tournament Championship and NIT Tournament Championship at WVU and the standout also excelled in the classroom, getting named to Big East Academic All-Star Team three times (2007, 2009 and 2010). The point guard was the sixth-man for the Mountaineers during the 2010 Final Four run. Mazzulla had a season-high 17 points in the regional final against Kentucky to help lead WVU to the Final Four. As a senior, Mazzulla started 16 games and averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. The standout point guard also had 139 assists during his final season with the Mountaineers. Mazzulla and his wife Camai currently reside in Fairmont and have two children, Michael Harden and Emmanuel Joseph Daniel Mazzulla. Mazzulla is a native of Johnston, R.I. Courtesy of: hoopdirt.com
Player of the Year: Justin Pitts (5'9''-PG) of Northwest Missouri State NABC NCAA D2 All-America Team Matt Bingaya (6'4''-G-94) of Fairmont State Joshua Blaylock (6'2''-G) of Fort Lewis Luquon Choice (6'3''-G-93) of Lincoln Memorial Devin Gilligan (6'5''-F) of Southern New Hampshire Zach Hankins (6'10''-C) of Ferris State Jeremiah Hill (6'2''-G-95) of Valdosta State Aaron Lien (6'4''-G-95) of MSU Moorhead Justin Pitts of Northwest Missouri State Justin Reyes (6'4''-G/F) of St. Thomas Aqu... [read more]
Player of the Year:Justin Pitts (5'9''-PG) of Northwest Missouri State
Northwest Missouri wins Division II title - 1 month ago
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Northwest Missouri State has pulled off the double. The Bearcats defeated Fairmont State 71-61 victory for the NCAA Division II men's basketball championship on Saturday in Sioux Falls, S.D. Northwest became the first Division II program to win football and men's basketball titles in the same school year. The Bearcats finished the season 35-1. Northwest Missouri State scored the game's first seven points and never trailed. The Bearcats extended an 11-point halftime lead to 14 on a Justin... [read more]
Northwest Missouri State has pulled off the double. The Bearcats defeated Fairmont State 71-61 victory for the NCAA Division II men's basketball championship on Saturday in Sioux Falls, S.D. Northwest became the first Division II program to win football and men's basketball titles in the same school year. The Bearcats finished the season 35-1. Northwest Missouri State scored the game's first seven points and never trailed. The Bearcats extended an 11-point halftime lead to 14 on a Justin Pitts (5'9''-PG) three-pointer. Fairmont's Matt Bingaya (6'4''-G-94) went on a personal 6-0 run before Pitts responded with another triple. Fairmont entered the game averaging 95 points, but it couldn't muster much offense and its press defense was largely useless against the Bearcats. Pitts, the NABC Division II player of the year, finished with 23 points and was voted most outstanding player of the Elite Eight. The junior from Blue Springs played all 40 minutes and committed just one turnover. Chris-Ebou Ndow (6'6''-F-93) was the work horse on the boards with 18 rebounds to go along with 17 points. Anthony Woods (6'2''-G, college: NW Missouri St.) added 13. Northwest Missouri State had been the regional runner-up each of the past three years. But the Bearcats finished the job for the program's first men's basketball national championship. Courtesy of: kansascity.com
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