W&J's season ends in PAC quarterfinals
WASHINGTON, Pa. – Colt Stafford rattled home two free throws with 17.9 seconds remaining to help fifth-seeded Thomas More knock off fourth-seeded Washington & Jefferson in the quarterfinal round of the 2011 PAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Tuesday night at the Henry Memorial Center.
The Saints move on to Thursday’s semifinals where they will meet top-seeded Thiel at 7:00 pm. Second-seeded Saint Vincent hosts third-seeded Bethany in the other semifinal.
W&J (11-15) fired out to an 18-13 lead, but the Presidents were held to just five points the rest of the half. TMC outscored Washington & Jefferson by a 19-5 margin in the final 9:36 of the half to take a 32-23 lead into the locker room. W&J went scoreless for a 6:05 stretch late in the first half.
Thomas More’s Daniel Whelan scored the first bucket of the second half, but W&J ripped off the next 11 points, eight of which were scored by senior guard Paul Matthews (Greensburg, Pa./Greensburg Salem), to tie the game 34-34 with 16:32 left.
The Presidents grabbed a 46-44 lead at the 8:56 mark after a three-pointer by Matthews and a free throw from senior point guard Adam Braithwaite (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley); however, the Saints answered with the next nine points to reclaim a 53-46 edge.
W&J chipped away at the lead and senior guard Brian Felker (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) capped a 10-1 spurt with two foul shots from a 56-54 lead with 2:45 remaining. His free throw a minute later made it a 57-54 game, but TMC answered with a Stafford basket with 1:15 left.
Following a W&J turnover, Stafford was fouled while driving to the basket and made two free throws for the 11th lead change of the night. Felker’s three-pointer with two seconds left hit the back of the rim and TMC escaped with the win.
Aaron Miller led the Saints with 18 points and six rebounds, while Whelan (12) and Stafford (10) both scored in double figures. Thomas More shot 41 percent (21-of-51) and held a 33-24 rebounding edge.
Felker, who scored W&J’s final 11 points, paced the Presidents with 21 points and seven rebounds. He finished his career with 1,324 points and joins teammate Nick Morelli (Imperial, Pa./West Allegheny) as the school’s career games played leaders (111). Matthews added 14 points and four assists for the Presidents, who shot 44 percent (19-of-43).