Brandywine Claims First-Ever PSUAC Men’s Basketball Championship

2017-18 PSUAC Champions
2017-18 PSUAC Champions

MEDIA, Pa. -- For the first time in the 49-year history of the program, Penn State Brandywine can lay claim to being the No. 1 team in Penn State University Athletic Conference men's basketball as the Lions won their first-ever league crown on Sunday, edging third-seeded Penn State Wilkes Barre 70-63 in front of a raucous home crowd.

Brandywine's championship victory completed one of the best turnarounds at any level of college basketball this season as the Lions, who won six games in 2016-17 and a combined 20 during the past four seasons, earned their 20th victory of the year under the direction of first-year Head Coach Ben Kay. Brandywine, playing in its first conference championship game in 27 years, owns 20 victories for the first time since 2005-06.

As the champion of the PSUAC, Brandywine has earned the conference's automatic bid to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament in Uniontown, Pa., next week. The Lions will learn their seeding and first round opponent Tuesday evening.

Brandywine, which battled past Wilkes Barre in double overtime when the teams met during the regular season, overcame an 18-0 surge by the visitors early in the second half, by answering with 11-straight points and took the lead for good when Donte Winfield (Philadelphia, Pa./Simon Gratz) sank a layup with 4:26 to go.

Winfield scored six consecutive points following Wilkes Barre's 18-0 run before Terrence Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Communications Tech) netted the next five, to put Brandywine, which had trailed by 10 points four minutes earlier, in front 43-42.

After the teams swapped three-pointers during the next three minutes, Brown knocked down two free throws to knot the score at 50-50 and 25 seconds later, Winfield's driving layup gave the Lions the lead. With 2:30 to play, Winfield gave Brandywine the momentum and a six-point edge by converting a three-point play.

Wilkes Barre cut the deficit as low as four points during the final 60 seconds, but Brown, Winfield and Ameer Staggs (Ridley, Pa./Ridley) combined to shoot 10-for-10 from the free throw line during the final minute to secure the Lions' first PSUAC crown.

Winfield poured in 25 points to lead all scorers. The honorable mention all-conference point guard shot 9-of-14  from the field, while grabbing five rebounds.

Brown, a first team all-conference selection, added 22 points and 10 boards, his ninth double-double of the season. James Fisher (Philadelphia, Pa./Upper Darby), who was named Second Team All-PSUAC, recorded nine points, passing Jamil Nelson for third all-time in scoring at Brandywine with 1,191 career points, while Staggs totaled 10 points and seven boards.

Brandywine shot 24-of-30 from the free throw line and held a 40-37 edge on the boards. The Lions limited Wilkes Barre to 38 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.

The USCAA will announce the national tournament bracket online Tuesday evening at 5:30 pm.

York Downs Brandywine 78-73
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