First Posted: 3/4/2012
It was a 2-fer at Misericordia University last Saturday. The men’s and women’s basketball teams both women Freedom Conference championships – the women by defeating King College, 64-54, and the men by earning a 69-42 win over Wilkes University.
Both Cougars teams were scheduled to be on the road in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament as the men were slated to play NYU Thursday evening and the women were traveling to Massachusetts to face Tufts on Friday.
The Lady Cougars have made their way to the conference tournament in each of their first four seasons in the league, reaching the finals in the past two. After losing on the road in last year’s championship game, however, the Cougars made their second chance count.
The only team to beat King’s in league play during the regular season, Misericordia became the first team to beat the Lady Monarchs at home in more than a year, snapping a 15-game streak.
A whistle-filled second half saw plenty of trips to the foul line but King’s was unable to take advantage, shooting 17-of-26 from the stripe in the half and 22-of-36 for the game. King’s shot 29 percent (14-of-48) from the floor.
Misericordia senior Christine Marks scored 15 points and added a game-high 11 rebounds as the Cougars won the battle on the boards, 38-24. Sophomore Lauren Smicherko chipped in with some valuable minutes off the bench, scoring seven of her nine points in the first half.
Following the Misericordia’s men win, Ethan Eichhorst, the league’s player of the year, Steve Artzerounian, the tournament MVP, and fellow starters Matt Greene, Jeff Slanovec and Chris Undersinger all took turns cutting down the net.
The last string belonged to coach Trevor Woodruff who climbed the ladder and took time to savor his alma mater’s first men’s basketball conference team.
It was the 12th straight win for the Cougars (21-5), capping off what was likely the most successful day in the history of Misericordia athletics.
For Woodruff, who was a player at Misericordia when Wilkes and coach Jerry Rickrode were playing in the Final Four, the win carried some added meaning.
Wilkes was the better team in the first half, stifling Eichhorst and building a 27-24 lead at halftime.
Little went right for the Colonels after that, as the Cougars blew them away with a 45-15 performance in the final 290 minutes. Wilkes, which had scored 103 points in an overtime win in the semifinals, was held to its lowest output of the season.
Slanovec finished the night with 11 points and passed the 1,000th career point mark during the game. Junior forward Steve Artzerounian led the Cougars with a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, earning tournament MVP honors for his efforts.
Eichhorst and Greene added 11 and 10 points, respectively.