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By Adam Zielonka
The DeSales men’s basketball team needed one more victory to win the Freedom Conference title and be guaranteed a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament, but the Bulldogs lost the Freedom Conference Championship Game to Delaware Valley College, 77-72.
The Delaware Valley Aggies got out to a 16-8 lead early, but the Bulldogs went on a 13-4 run to take their first lead of the game, 21-20. The rest of the first half played out pretty evenly, as DeSales took a 33-28 lead into halftime.
DeSales benefited from the ten fouls Delaware Valley committed in the first half. The Bulldogs shot 10-12 from the line in the first half, and 27-33 for the game.
But DeSales gave up their halftime lead in just 2:31 of the second half, as Del Val retook the lead, 37-36. From then on, the Bulldogs were constantly playing catch-up, never having a lead larger than one point. The Aggies’ lead grew to eight points again, 56-48 with 7:19 to play, and DeSales had to see if there was one more comeback left in their bag of tricks.
Senior big man Brett Moyer drew three fouls in the next three minutes and made five of his six free throw attempts. Junior guard Paul Pammer made a layup and drew a foul to boot; the three-point play cut the deficit to 60-56 with less than four minutes to play. After Del Val made one of two free throw attempts, Moyer got the feed down low for another easy layup, and the score became 61-58 Aggies.
Del Val made a string of shots, but just when it looked hopeless for the Bulldogs, a Mike Coleman three cut the Aggies lead down to four points again, 67-63, with 2:09 to play. But when sophomore guard Michael Guldin missed a three with the Bulldogs down six and a minute left to play, it seemed the clock had finally run out on DeSales’ season.
It was a heartbreaking loss for DeSales, who had split the season series with Del Val, winning one game and losing one.
Moyer did his part, leading the Bulldogs with 19 points and an astonishing 26 rebounds, in addition to drawing fouls and making clutch free throws late in the game. But unless DeSales is awarded one of the nineteen at-large bids to the Division III Tournament, reserved for teams who did not win their conference tournaments, Moyer’s DeSales career will end in defeat.
Pammer added 14 points and three rebounds, and Coleman scored 12 points.
Aggie senior forward Jeremy Beckett was named the game’s MVP. He led all scorers with 25 points, and led his team with ten rebounds. Delaware Valley College will go on to represent the Freedom Conference in the Division III Tournament.