Bulldogs Win Third Freedom Title in OT Thriller; Coleman Named MVP

by B.J. Spigelmyer | Mar 01, 2014

DeSales Men's Basketball 2014 Freedom Conference Champs
For stats, photos, and more information, click here.

Senior Mike Coleman scored a career-high 28 points, 18 of which came in the second-half and overtime, earning MVP honors and carrying the DeSales University men's basketball team to its third Freedom Conference Championship with a 73-64 overtime win over Misericordia University on Saturday afternoon in Billera Hall.

The Bulldogs (18-9 overall) earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament with the win.  The NCAA Tournament field will be announced on the web in the NCAA Selection Show on Monday at 12:30 pm.  The tournament will feature 62 teams with two first-round games on Thursday evening and the rest of the tournament starting on Friday evening.

Coleman earned his Player of the Year label on Saturday scoring 16 of his 28 tallies in the last 11:21 of the game, including 10 straight with the Bulldogs down five giving DSU its first second-half lead (61-59) with 3:26 left to play and six more in OT.

Senior Paul Pammer was equally outstanding hitting 6-of-7 from the field including a perfect 5-for-5 from downtown to tally 17 points and sophomore Cody Deal also reached double digits with 12 points.  Deal and junior Travis Bryan each pulled down a team-high seven rebounds and Bryan added three blocked shots in the win.

Junior Joe Busacca was outstanding for the Cougars, dropping a team-high 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting.  Junior Steve Ware notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Erik Kerns finished with 12 points in the loss.

After a Ware free throw gave MU a 10-point lead, its largest of the game (56-46), with 8:54 to go, the Bulldogs went to work.

Deal started a 15-3 run over the next 5:28 that turned a 10-point deficit into a two-point lead (61-59).  Bryan converted a lay-up after Deal's bucket and then it was all Coleman.

He hit a lay-up on the next possession cutting the deficit down to three points at the 6:21 mark and after two missed free throws from Ware, hit a short jumper to make it a one-point game.

Freshman Griffin Spounagle quieted a packed house in Billera Hall with a three on the next possession but Coleman wasn't done.

He answered the Spounagle three with one of his own and completed the comeback on the next possession with a three-point play sending the Bulldog fans into a frenzy with DSU up two (61-59) with 3:26 remaining.

Both teams went cold from that point combining for four missed shots and two turnovers over the next 2:30.  Busacca finally broke the string with a lay-up with 57 seconds left to tie the game at 61 as DSU called timeout with possession and 40 seconds left.

Coleman dribbled around a high screen at the top of the key but had the ball knocked away trying to break the double team giving the Cougars a last chance at the win.  After working the ball around on the offensive end Busacca had the ball with the clock ticking and about six seconds left, drove right and pulled up for a game-winning jumper but senior Kyle Hash was there and before Busacca even got started on the shot, Hash swiped the ball clean and tossed up a ¾ quarter court shot at the buzzer that was well short sending the game to overtime.

Both teams were running on fumes at the start of the overtime as Coleman was the only player to convert in the first 2:34 of the extra period giving the Bulldogs a two-point cushion.

After a Cougar turnover Deal came up clutch once again hitting a three to give DeSales a five-point lead that lasted all of 13 seconds as Busacca answered with a three on the other end with 2:03 to go.

Coleman was fouled going to the hoop on the next possession and knocked down both charity tosses to make it 68-64 with 1:30 remaining.  Greene was off the mark on a three for Misericordia and Coleman was there for the board.

After working the ball around on offense Deal let go on a triple but MU's Ware closed out quickly and blocked the attempt.  Deal grabbed the block, dribbled once, and found Pammer all alone on the left corner where the senior hit all cotton on his fifth trey of the game giving DSU a seven point lead (71-64) and after a Spounagle miss, the Bulldogs were just 14 seconds away from their third Freedom Conference title.

It was a back-and-forth first-half that featured two ties and five lead changes.  DSU led 22-16 early before Misericordia took control with a 16-4 run to take a 32-26 lead before taking a 34-30 advantage into the locker rooms.  Busacca was outstanding for MU with 16 first-half points, while DSU was led by Coleman with 10 points.

Misericordia controlled play for the first 11 minutes of the second-half, slowly building its lead up to 10 points with 8:54 to go with Ware, Kerns, and Busacca doing most of the damage before DSU began its championship comeback.

Both teams shot well from outside the arc as the Bulldogs hit 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) and the Cougars converted 8-of-16 (50.0 percent).  DeSales finished the game with a 38-30 edge on the glass and shot a blistering 92.3 percent (12-of-13) from the free throw line.  MU hit just 12-of-21 from the charity stripe on its end.

For stats, photos, and more information, click here.

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