WILKES-BARRE (PA) – Sophomores Mike Cianciulli (22 points) and Andre' Butler (18 points) each netted career highs in scoring as Delaware Valley University went on the road and downed Wilkes University, 69-65, in a rematch of last year's Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom Championship Game.
It's the first time the two squads met since last February when the Aggies captured their third conference crown in the last six years with a 75-72 home triumph. They are under new leadership with rookie head coach Mark Seidenburg and the win on Wednesday night improved his squad to 7-7 overall and 2-1 in the league. The Colonels fell to 7-7 and 1-2.
Cianciulli and Butler entered the game as DelVal's fourth and fifth leading scorers on the current roster with averages of 8.1 and 5.2 points per game respectively. They easily eclipsed those numbers, en route to career efforts on Wednesday.
Cianciulli, who has now scored 55 points in the three conference games, did most of his damage in the first half as he hit all three of his 3-pointers and had 13 points in those 20 minutes. Butler scored 13 of his 18 in the second half and also finished with eight rebounds.
The Aggies led throughout most of the contest, including 59-50 after Cianciulli sank a jumper with 5:55 remaining. Wilkes did not go away and an 11-2 run, capped by a Marcus Robinson trey, tied the game at 61-61 with 2:57 left on the clock.
On DelVal's next possession, the shot clock was winding down when leading scorer Tyliek Kimbrough drilled a 3-pointer to put the Aggies back ahead. Zach Walser answered with a jumper at the other end and the Colonels then had two looks inside on their next possession, but could not score. Butler was fouled with 33 seconds to go and he calmly hit both attempts for a 66-63 lead. A Connor Evans layup 10 ticks later pulled Wilkes back to within one and Kimbrough was then sent to the line. He made just one of two free throws, giving the Colonels a chance to tie or take the lead. However, a strong defensive effort by the Aggies forced a wild shot by Robinson that did not come close and Cianciulli was fouled with two seconds remaining. He hit both of his free throws to seal the win.
DelVal, which led by one at halftime (26-25) and by as many as 12 (43-31) in the second half, was strong from the outside as it hit nine of 17 attempts (52.9 percent) from beyond the arc (Wilkes was 7-for-21, 33.3 percent). The Aggies also committed just nine turnovers compared to 13 by the Colonels.
All 69 of the Aggies' points came from their starters. In addition to Butler and Cianciulli's heroics, Tyrea Williams (11 points, 11 rebounds) finished with a double-double. Alex Matsinye had 10 points and four boards while Kimbrough added eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Robinson hit five triples for Wilkes, en route to a 17-point effort. Mark Mullins had 15 points and 12 rebounds while Evans ended the night with 11 points.
DelVal is back on the road on Saturday, January 11 (3 p.m.) when it meets MAC Freedom foe Misericordia University.