BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College is continuing its look back at the 2016-17 year with the second of two Top 10 lists, the Top 10 Stories of the Year. No. 8 on the list is the men's basketball team reaching the conference championship game for the first time since 1948 with the program's first postseason victory since 1990.
The men's basketball team had one of the best seasons in school history in 2016-17 under the direction of second-year Head Coach Justin Potts, a 2000 Moravian graduate. The Hounds tied the school record with 19 victories, the third squad in the program's 80 seasons with 19 wins, and was 19-9 overall after having won just five games two years ago.
"The 2016-17 season was one that everyone involved in the program will look back on with fond memories," stated Potts. "The guys did a great job of sticking to our core values all year, which allowed us to grow and play our best basketball at the end of the season."
The Blue and Grey finished the regular season at 18-7 after winning nine of the final 10 games on the schedule and clinched the second seed in the 2017 Landmark Conference Tournament on a tiebreaker to host No. 17 Susquehanna University in the Landmark Conference Semifinals in Johnston Hall on February 22. The Greyhounds used a 50-point second half outburst to defeat the River Hawks for the second time in just over a month in Johnston Hall. Senior forward Brandon McGuire led the way with 27 points and 12 rebounds while senior guard Sean Hanna tossed in 20 points while going 12-for-14 at the foul line in the triumph.
The win was Moravian's first postseason victory since a 71-62 win over Dickinson College on February 20, 1990 in Johnston Hall during the Middle Atlantic Conference Tournament. The Hounds had lost their last nine postseason appearances including a game in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2008.
The victory pushed the Greyhounds into the Landmark Conference Championship game at The University of Scranton on Saturday, February 25, the program's first berth in a conference title game since 1948 as Moravian looked for its first conference championship since 1940. The Greyhounds built a seven-point lead, 17-10, midway through the first half but would trail the Royals by three at halftime before falling by five points, 68-63. The squad trailed by just three points with 5:39 remaining but was unable to get any closer. McGuire netted another 21 points while sophomore forward Oneil Holder added 17 points.
"Each season is its own separate journey and this journey was one of some great accomplishments," Potts noted. "Playing for the Conference Championship was a great accomplishment for the program and although we came up short it was a great game and environment for our guys to experience."
Moravian missed out on an at-large berth to the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament but did receive the second seed and a first round bye in the ECAC Division III Tournament. The Hounds would travel to Erie, Pennsylvania to host Penn State Behrend, and Moravian would play Bethany (W.Va.) College in search of the first 20-win season in school history. However, the season ended with an 88-81 loss in the quarterfinals. McGuire had his 15th double-double of the season with 20 points and ten rebounds while sophomore guard Jimmy Murray had 16 points.
In addition to tying the school record for wins, the 2016-17 squad set school records for points scored with 2,317, field goals made with 809, three-pointers made with 249 and assists with 435.
"I could not have been more proud of the guys for the way they represented the program all year," Potts explained. "They brought some great energy and excitement back to the program. We look forward to continuing to build on the 2017-18 season."
The number seven story in the Top 10 Stories of 2016-17 will be released on Wednesday, August 2.