SCRANTON, Pa. --- The top-seeded University of Scranton men's basketball team posted an 82-70 victory over fourth seed Moravian College in the Landmark Conference Semifinals Wednesday evening in Scranton.
The Royals, the defending Landmark Conference Champions, are now 19-7 overall and will play for their fourth Landmark Conference title on Saturday. The Greyhounds, who were making their first postseason appearance since the 2008 season, finish the year with a 12-14 record. Senior forward Jeff Cullinan led Moravian with his third double-double of the season including 23 points and ten rebounds, and Cullinan scored the Greyhounds' first 13 points of the game.
The Royals jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of free throws by senior guard/forward Luke Hawk just 14 seconds into the game while Cullinan tied the game for the Greyhounds with a steal and a lay-up 30 seconds later. Junior forward Travis Farrell made a lay-up to put Scranton before back-to-back baskets by Cullinan gave Moravian a 6-4 lead.
Sophomore guard Tommy Morgan had a three-point play to put the Royals back in front, 7-6, and a three-pointer from senior forward Matt Swaback put Scranton up 10-6 with 16:43 on the clock. Hawk added a basket for a 12-6 Royals' advantage before Cullinan connected on a three-point play to cut the deficit to 12-9 with 15:27 before the intermission. Junior guard Tim Lavelle connected on his second three-pointer of the half to give Scranton an 18-11 lead before Cullinan scored his sixth basket of the game to cut the deficit to 18-13 with 13:23 on the clock.
Scranton pushed its lead to 24-13 on back-to-back lay-ups by freshman guard Ross Danzig. Moravian freshman guard Izel Dickerson hit a free throw with 9:48 left in the first half, to cut Scranton's lead to 25-14. Greyhounds' sophomore forward Cameron Cullen cut the Royals' lead below ten points at 25-16 with 8:22 on the clock; however, Farrell answered with a three-pointer for Scranton.
Hawk connected on a three-point play to give the Royals a 33-19 advantage with 6:38 before the intermission. The Greyhounds would get the lead back into single digits at 41-33 with 2:08 left in the first half after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Kenny Gula and a pair of free throws from junior guard D.J. Strayhorn cut the deficit to 41-35. Danzig would connect a lay-up with 44 seconds left in the half to send Scranton to the locker room with a 44-36 lead.
The Royals connected on 14-of-31 field goal attempts (45 percent), five-of-13 three-pointers and 11-of-15 free throws in the opening 20 minutes of the game. The Greyhounds were 13-of-33 from the floor (39 percent), and Moravian connected on three-of-nine behind the three-point line and seven-of-nine at the foul line. The Greyhounds had a 22-18 edge in rebounds in the opening half, and Moravian committed five turnovers while Scranton has four.
Farrell hit a free throw on Scranton's first possession of the second half to opening the scoring before Cullinan hit a lay-up for Moravian's first points of the half. Scranton senior forward Nick Jaskula put the Royals' lead to double figures at 49-38 with a lay-up with 17:24 to play. Moravian pulled back within nine points, 52-43, on a three-pointer from Gula at the 14:47 mark.
Strayhorn hit a jumper with 12:29 to play to cut Scranton's advantage to 54-47 but Danzig hit a jumper in the lane to push the Royals' lead to 58-47 with 10:50 remaining. Hawk connected on two free throws with 7:59 left to give Scranton a 64-51 advantage while Moravian trailed 68-58 with 4:22 on the clock after a three-pointer from Strayhorn.
Farrell pushed Scranton's lead to 74-60 with 2:20 remaining but the Greyhounds would get with eight points, 76-68, on two free throws from junior guard Garrett Johnson with 1:08 remaining. However, that would be as close as Moravian would get.
Scranton was 11-for-21 from the field (52 percent), one-for-four on three-pointers and 15-for-21 at the foul line in the second half while Moravian connected on 13-of-30 field goal attempts (43 percent), two-of-six three-pointers and six-of-seven free throws in the final 20 minutes. The Greyhounds finished the game with a 37-34 edge in rebounds, and Moravian committed 16 turnovers while the Royals had 15 turnovers.
Cullinan led three Greyhounds in double figures, and he had four steals to go with his double-double. Strayhorn finished the game with 20 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds while Gula tossed in 11 points and added two steals. Johnson contributed nine points and five rebounds while Cullen had a team high eight rebounds to go with four points for Moravian. Senior forward Marcus Hardy had three rebounds and two points in his final collegiate game.
Scranton had four players in double figures led by Hawk, who had 22 points and three rebounds. Farrell had 20 points and six boards while Danzig contributed 15 points, three rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocked shots. Morgan added ten points and four rebounds while Lavelle had six points and three assists. Senior forward Edmund O'Connell added seven rebounds and four assists for the Royals.