Hilbert College closes in on menís basketball team's first AMCC crown
Hilbert, which improved to 13-4 and moved into sole possession of second place in the AMCC, has given itself a chance to win a program-first conference title with a win Saturday, Feb. 16 in the Hawksí season finale.
Freshman Jerame Owens measured up well against the intimidating inside presence of Behrendís Russ Conley, who is nationally ranked in two shooting categories. They each reached a double-double, but the supporting cast from Hilbert played a larger role in the Hawksí home court victory.
Senior Dan McFarland finished with 14 points, going 5 of 7 from the floor and making all four free throw attempts, to give him 1,504 career points. Senior Anthony Hodge chipped in 13 points and sophomore Trevor Stark added 11 points, going 3 of 4 from the field and 5 of 6 from the charity stripe. Senior Isaac Bushey added five for Hilbert.
Hilbert out rebounded Behrend 35-25 and finished with 15 steals, while forcing an uncharacteristic 22 turnovers by the Lions. Behrend took its largest lead of the game in the first few minutes of the second half at 30-25. But Hilbert slowly cut the difference and finally took over the lead at 13:37 off a Hodge layup. Hilbert later pushed that lead all the way to 17 points with just over one minute remaining.
Hilbert will honor their three seniors ó Bushey, McFarland and Anthony Hodge ó prior to their final regular season game this weekend as it hosts the current top-ranked conference team LaRoche College (14-3) at 3 p.m. With a Hilbert win, the Hawks, now 19-5 overall, will claim their first AMCC regular season championship and the top seed in the AMCC tournament. The Hawks won at LaRoche 73-71 the first time the teams met this season.
Should Hilbert suffer a defeat, they could drop as low as the fourth seed in the post-season tourney and host a first round game. With the loss, Behrend moved into a third place tie with the conferenceís defending champion Medaille at 12-5 but both can still move ahead of the Hawks in the final weekend of the regular season.
Playoffs begin Tuesday, Feb. 19 with the fourth seed hosting the fifth and the No. 3 seed hosting the six. The top seed hosts the championship weekend with semifinal games scheduled for Friday (Feb. 22) night and championship game on Saturday, Feb. 23.