February 11, 2012

Spartans Ride Early Hot Streak to Down First Place Mary Washington

YORK, PA – The York College men's basketball team rode a 26-5 start to defeat the first-place Mary Washington Eagles 76-68 in Capital Athletic Conference play on Saturday afternoon in York.

The Spartans snap a two-game skid as they improve to 14-9 overall and 9-5 overall while the Eagles fall to 16-7 overall and 11-3 in the CAC. York remains tied for third place in the league as they are locked in a tie with Frostburg State.

Prior to tip off, York College recognized head coach Jeff Gamber for his 36 years of service to the Spartan Athletic program as men's basketball coach, golf coach and for his 22 years as athletic director. The Capital Athletic Conference also announced that the yearly CAC Men's Basketball Coach of the Year award will now be named the Jeff Gamber Men's Basketball Coach-of-the-Year award.

After the emotional recognition for Gamber, his players responded in fantastic fashion as they opened up the game with a Mo Oursler three pointer. The Eagles responded with a Mike Harvey three but the Spartans scored the next 15 straight points before Sean Armstrong broke the run with a free throw at the 10:56 mark.

The Spartans increased the lead to 21 on a Paul Kouvaris lay up with 9:11 remaining in the stanza. The York lead grew to a game-high 22 points on a Mitch Kemp jumper with 6:40 remaining, as York's advantage stood at 30-8.

The Eagles got back-to-back three pointers from Harvey and Bradley Riester, kick starting an 18-4 Eagle run, cutting the once formidable Spartan lead to just eight with 1:59 left in the half. York halted the run on a Kemp three and York finished the half on a 7-0 spurt to take a 41-26 lead to the break.

The Spartans continued their late first half run by scoring six of the first eight points of the second half as York's lead climbed back up to 19 just under four minutes into the second half. Mary Washington then clamped down on the Spartans as they hit their hosts with a 16-2 run, cutting the York lead to just five with 10:12 left in the second stanza.

The Spartans responded to the Eagle run with a five straight points, pushing the lead back into double figures. York's lead bounced between six and 11 points over the next seven minutes until the Eagles would again trim the York advantage to five on a Riester triple with 3:53 left in the game.

The Spartans' got a huge lay up from junior Jeremy Skoloda followed by a pair of Skoloda free throws on the next possession, pushing York's lead back to nine.  Skoloda's lay up with 3:10 left would be York's final bucket from the field as the Spartans made the most of their free throw attempts over the final three minutes of the game. York converted 10-of-14 from the stripe during the stretch as Mary Washington would not get closer than seven the rest of the way.

York was led by Kouvaris as the senior continues to be simply outstanding for York. He tallied a team-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor while he also nailed 5-of-8 from the charity stripe He pulled in six rebounds and also had a blocked shot and a steal in the win. Kemp came off the bench to hit a number of big shots en route to 15 points in 18 minutes of work. Kemp was 5-for-6 from the floor including 4-of-5 from downtown and 1-of-2 from the line. Junior Julian Watson was the third Spartan in double figures with 12 points while he also had four rebounds, six assists, a blocked shot and a pair of steals. Four Spartans each reached eight points in a very balanced offensive effort for the Spartans.

Armstrong led all scorers as the forward had 21 points in just 18 minutes of action off the bench for UMW. Armstrong was 8-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-7 from the stripe. Riester, the Eagles' leading scorer, also came off the bench for 15 points while he also had five assists and a pair of steals. Canady was the third Eagle in double figures with 14 points.

The Spartans finished the game shooting a season-high 57.8% from the floor including a very efficient 6-for-11 (54.4%) from three. The shooting performance marks the seventh time this season that the Spartans have eclipsed the 50% mark in field goal percentage. York shot 75% (18-for-24) from the free throw ling including 14-for-20 in the second half.

Mary Washington shot 38.1% from the floor for the game while they went 8-for-24 (33.3%) from distance. The Eagles converted 12-of-16 from the stripe in the loss.

The two teams were nearly identical in a number of categories. York held a slight 32-31 edge in rebounding while the Eagles had a 9-4 margin in second chance points. The Eagles did hold a rather large 63-45 edge in total shots in the game. The Spartans did commit 23 turnovers in the game, their second highest total of the year. The miscues didn't hurt the Spartans as both squads finished with 18 points off turnovers.

The Green and White return to Wolf Gymnasium on Wednesday night for their final regular season home game of the year as they square off against Wesley College. Prior to the 8:00 pm tip, the Spartans will honor their four seniors during their annual Senior Day festivities.

Jeff Gamber photo courtesy of Theresa Dark - Athletic Communications Student Photographer