|Logan Bailey||Jack Brockett||Ryan Ems|
SCRANTON - In just the second conference playoff game in program history to go into double overtime, senior guard Logan Bailey (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep) had 18 points, while junior Jack Brockett (Shamong, N.J./Seneca) scored a career-high 16 off the bench and made a key three late to give The University of Scranton men's basketball team an 87-80 win over Catholic in the 2021 Landmark Conference semifinals in the Long Center on Wednesday night.
With the win, the second-seeded Royals (7-2) now head to the Landmark Conference championship game on Saturday, as they'll travel to top-seeded Drew, who were winners tonight over fourth-seeded Juniata, 72-61. The game will begin in Madison, N.J. at 3 p.m.
Catholic, the third seed in the field, completed the season with the tough loss, finishing with a 4-4 mark.
Like the first two games during the regular season with the Royals and Cardinals, it was a tight affair from the opening tap on Wednesday night.
In the opening stanza, Catholic came out and shot very well, holding a 24-16 lead with seven minutes left. They held that lead for the rest of the first half, but Scranton stayed within striking distance throughout the period and went into halftime only trailing, 34-31.
To open the second half, the Royals scored four quick points to take the lead back at 35-34 one minute into the period. For the next few minutes, the lead went back and forth, until the Royals went on a 11-0 run to open their biggest lead of the night at 56-45 with 12:48 left.
But, slowly, Catholic chipped away at the Royals lead, and eventually went back up, 59-58, with 6:48 left after a 14-2 run of their own.
With 4:39 left, the game was tied at 61-all and it appeared at this juncture that Scranton would take control, as a quick 8-0 run (capped by a made lay-in by junior Jackson Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights) with 2:34 left put the Royals up, 69-61.
But, Catholic once again came back, scoring seven in a row to slice the Scranton lead down to one point (69-68) with 35 seconds left. With 18 seconds left, senior Brian Monaghan (Florham Park, N.J./Morristown-Beard) made one of two free throws to increase the lead to two (70-68), but on their next possession, Catholic's Colby Martins was fouled. He proceeded to make a pair of free throws, tying the game at 70-70 with 12 seconds left.
On their final possession of regulation, the Royals were unable to get a good look at the basket, as a miss at the buzzer sent the game to overtime tied up at 70-all.
The first overtime saw both teams struggle offensively, with only one shot made from the floor, and no one even scoring until 2:44 left when sophomore Ryan Ems (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional) made a free throw to give Scranton a 71-70 lead. Catholic would return the favor with a made free throw with 1:17 left to tie it back up at 71, but Monaghan was fouled on the next possession and made both to give the Royals the lead back at 73-71.
With 48 seconds left, Catholic's Frank Lumaj made the only shot from the floor for the whole first overtime to tie the game back up at 73-all. On their final possessions of the overtime, both Scranton and Catholic had chances to go up, but both failed to convert, sending the game to a second overtime.
There, shots started to fall for both teams. With Catholic leading 77-76, Danzig nailed a three to give the Royals the lead back at 79-77 with 2:50 left. But, Catholic answered the three with one of their own to go up, 80-79, with 2:31 left.
After both teams traded misses, Bailey scored with 1:47 left to put Scranton up, 81-80. This was followed by a Scranton miss and two more Catholic misses to give the Royals the ball back with 49 seconds left after Brockett grabbed a rebound on defense.
The junior got down the court fast for the next possession, and a driving Bailey found the guard wide open for a three, which he sank to give Scranton the lead for good at 84-80 with 30 seconds left.
Down the stretch, the Royals defense continued to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard and made three of four free throws down the stretch to clinch the win, moving Scranton into the Landmark Conference title game for the second straight season in the process.
Overall, Bailey once again led the Royals in scoring with his 18-point evening. He also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out four assists in the victory, as well.
Brockett, meanwhile finished with his first career double-double in the best game of his career in a Scranton uniform with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ems and sophomore Stephen Braunstein (Colts Neck, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) had 13 points, apiece, to round out the double-digit scorers for Scranton, with Ems finishing with six rebounds and three blocks. Danzig, who scored nine points, dished out a game-high six assists in the thrilling win, too.
Catholic was led in the defeat by Martins, who had a game-high 19 points.
Scranton now heads to Drew to take on the Rangers for the third straight year in the Landmark postseason, but this time the teams will play for a conference title after playing in the semifinals each of the last two seasons.
During the regular season, the squads split their series, with Scranton winning in the Long Center on Feb. 14, 65-56. Drew won the first match-up on Feb. 12, 97-68.
More on the 2021 Landmark Conference men's basketball championship game will be posted late in the week on athletics.scranton.edu.