Men’s Basketball Wins First Ever PostSeason Game; Falls In Semifinals, 103-102

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With nine seconds left on the clock, the game was tied, 69-69. It was the quarterfinals of the East Coast Conference (ECC) tournament.  The University of the District of Columbia’s Firebirds were the third seed and had possession. The ball was passed to forward Joseph Nickerson at the top of the key. K.J. Rose of the sixth seeded Mavericks was in charge of guarding him. Nickerson drove to the basket and scored the lay up. He puts the Firebirds up by two points, 71-69.

The Mavericks pushed the ball up the court as the clock was running out. Guard Raphael Jennings found wide-open Gerald McClease on the wing, with five seconds on the clock, McClease released the ball from behind the arc.

“I was thinking ‘I’m a senior. This is it. We’re going to live or die with this shot,’” McClease said.

McClease made a three in the first half, but missed one earlier in the second. He was ready to redeem himself.

“That miss made me get down on myself but my teammates told me its ok ill make the next one, and it was the game winning three,” said McClease.

He was in shock when the shot went in. He was still standing with his hands in the air. He nearly forgot there was four seconds left on the clock and he had to get back on defense.

Nickerson dribbled the ball quickly up the court as he tried to dribble past K.J. Rose, but Rose stole the ball from Nickerson.

The Mavericks bench jumped up in excitement, running on the floor to hug McClease. The Mavs had swept the Firebirds, three games to none, during the season, but there was more important records to celebrate.

“Going into the game I was extremely confident in our team. UDC is a very good team, but we happened to pull out in the end,” said Rose.

This is the first time in school history the Maverick men’s basketball program earned a berth in conference tournament, and the first tie it had won a postseason game. It also tied with the most wins in a season since the 1992-1993 season with 13.

The leading scorer for the Mavericks (13-15) was Tyseem Lyles who scored 24 points. He helped start the Mavs off with making two threes. Center William Robison added 21 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was a roller coaster game. It wasn’t as close as it was. With all the excitement and the momentum of the game, it made me feel great because we came out victorious,” said Lyles. “It would not have felt good to be on the losing side if this one.”

The Mavericks came out the gate strong against the Firebirds in the first half. They were leading by 10 points with 10 minutes to go in the half, 20-10. The Firebirds weren’t giving up that easily. They played tough defense against the Mavericks causing them to turn the ball over.

Joseph Nickerson helped pave the Firebirds way into the Maverick lead. He had a career high of 32 points 11 rebounds and 6 steals.

UDC took over the lead going into the second half with Geran Pope’s jump shot. The Mavericks were down by two at the half. William Robison was fighting in the paint for rebounds. His made free throws and lay up put the Mavericks ahead by four points.

After a back and forth of runs, Jason Quijada made a three pointer, putting the Mavs only down by 2 with 7:33 left in the game. Rose tied it minutes later.

One wild one was not enough for the Mavericks. In the quarterfinals, they played second seeded Daemen College in Washington D.C.  The teams were dead even at 43 at the half, and then 92 afterwards.

According to Mercy Sports Information, the game had eight ties and a whopping ten lead changes, with Deamen pulling out the win, 103-102.

Mercy kept in the game by winning the rebounding battle, earning second change shots and shooting 48 percent from the field.

With 15 minutes remaining, Mercy went on a 13-3 run and lead by six. Yet Daemon rallied and actually lead by five with :40 left on the clock. Robinson hit two free throws to cut it to three. A turnover turned into a jumpsuit for Lyles, putting Mercy down one. Deamon hit one of two from the free throw line, and Raphael Jennings went the length of the court and hit a layup to tie the game with eight seconds left.

In overtime, Mercy took a 102-101 lead with :48 seconds left, but Jay Sarkis regained the lead 13 seconds later for Daemon, and Mercy could not capitalize on the next possession.

Lyles said the key to pulling out a game like this is hitting shots from the charity stripe.

“We had some key stops. Everything could have been better, but my main thing is free throws,” he Lyles.

Torrence Dyck, the leading scorer of the ECC, scored 23 points for Daemon (19-9).

Lyles finished with 28 for Mercy, Quijada scored 19. Robinson scored 14, as did Joshua Thompson. Rose finished with 13. McClease pulled down four offensive rebounds.

St. Thomas Aquinas won the championship the next day, 80-63. Mercy lost to the Spartans twice during the regular season. It was the first ECC title for the Spartans, and their first berth in the NCAA tournament. St. Thomas Aquinas won it’s first game against Southern Connecticut State, then lost to St. Anselm, 77-73.