DOYLESTOWN (PA) – DeSales University trailed for just 50 seconds in the game as the fourth-seeded Bulldogs stunned top-seeded and defending Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom champion Delaware Valley University, 79-57, in a semifinal match-up on Thursday.
With the win, DeSales improved to 18-8 overall and advanced to Saturday's MAC Freedom Championship Game at third-seeded Misericordia University (time TBA). It will mark the second year in a row that the number three and four seeds will meet in the title game as the Aggies won last year's crown in similar fashion with a triumph over No. 4 Wilkes University.
DelVal, with a rookie head coach in Mark Seidenburg and three new starters, was picked sixth in the MAC Freedom preseason coaches' poll. Instead, the squad went 11-3 in league action to claim the top seed and tie the school record for wins in the conference. They ended their season with a 16-10 overall record.
The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but a campus power outage forced a postponement and an earlier start on Thursday (5:30 p.m.). It was all Bulldogs from the opening tip as they scored the first six points of the game, all from center Ryan Callahan. The Aggies responded with seven straight, capped by a Tyrea Williams alley-oop slam off a feed from Alex Matsinye.
The teams then traded baskets with a layup by DeSales' Kweku Dawson-Amoah and another throwdown by Williams. Williams' jam came with 13:48 remaining in the first half, but it turned out to be the last lead of the night for DelVal as the Bulldogs followed with seven straight and 16 of 20 for a 24-13 advantage with 5:02 left on the clock.
DeSales eventually took a 29-19 lead into the break and a big reason why was a 26-13 advantage on the boards, including 11 offensive grabs that led to 12, second-chance points. The Aggies struggled against the zone defense and missed all 12 of their shots from 3-point land.
The Bulldogs outscored DelVal by 12 in the opening six-plus minutes of the second half to build their lead to 22, 45-23. The Aggies tried to make a run and back-to-back jumpers by Andre' Butler ended a 7-2 spurt that made it a 17-point game.
DeSales bumped it back up to 22 before a 7-1 run by DelVal made it a 57-41 contest with 8:26 to go. However, that was close as the Aggies would come as their reign as MAC Freedom champions came to an end.
The Bulldogs shot 49.1 percent from the field, including a 15-for-24 effort (62.5%) in the second half. They also held a 45-32 advantage on the boards. Brandon Bridy had 15 points while Callahan added 14 points and eight rebounds. Joseph Lococo came off the bench to pour in 12 points and Dawson-Amoah had a double-double with 11 points and 13 boards.
DelVal shot 36.1 percent for the evening and managed to hit just three of 26 attempts (11.5%) from beyond the arc. Williams, playing in his last game as an Aggie, notched 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. Fellow senior Tyliek Kimbrough had six points and four assists. Butler, a sophomore, finished with 12 points and six rebounds while Matsinye, also a sophomore, ended with seven points and six rebounds.