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Pioneers Fall Just Short in NCAA Tournament

David Otero

On Saturday, March 10th, the LIU Post men’s basketball team lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the third-seeded Adelphi Panthers by a score of 66-65. The Pioneers came into the game as the sixth seed in the East Region, as they won the East Coast Conference and were given an automatic bid into the tournament.

Both teams started the game off slow and were unable to get any offense going through much of the first half of play. At the end of the half, the Panthers led 29-26. Both teams played solid defense and caused difficult shot opportunities. The Pioneers only trailed by three points because of their perimeter shooting. Through the half, the Pioneers made only 10 shots, but four of those shots were three-pointers. Graduate guard Vince Rosario and junior guard Tobin Carberry each drained a pair of three-pointers, which accounted for nearly half of the Pioneers’ scoring output during the first 20 minutes of play.

The second half was more up-tempo, as both teams could sense winning the game and advancing into the next round of the tournament. Both teams answered each other and hit clutch shots down the stretch as the game went back and forth.

The Pioneers remained in the game despite not getting the usual production from senior guard Stefan Bonneau. Bonneau, the East Coast Conference Player of the Year, had one of the quietest games of his Pioneers career. The Panthers’ defense was swarming and constantly pressured Bonneau, causing him to score only six points and turn the ball over seven times. With just about five minutes left to play and the game still in the balance, Bonneau went down with a hip injury and had to be helped off the floor.

However, despite Bonneau’s absence in the game, the Pioneers still led 63-56 with three minutes remaining in the game. With just over two minutes left, Panthers’ junior forward Bradley Simpson hit one of his three three-pointers in the game to cut the Pioneers’ lead to only four points.

With the score 65-64 in favor of the Pioneers, sophomore forward Vaughn Allen missed a difficult shot inside with 20 seconds left in the game. Following a timeout, Panthers junior guard Chris Ranglin put up a wild missed shot in the paint with seven seconds left, but Panthers senior forward Norron McDonald grabbed the offensive rebound and made the lay-up. McDonald’s put back gave the Panthers a 66-65 lead with 1.8 seconds left, which ended up being the final score.

Sophomore forward Vaughn Allen led the Pioneers in both points and rebounds, as he finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Despite the tough loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Pioneers had a tremendous second season under head coach Chris Casey. The Pioneers won the East Coast Conference, finished with a 23-6 overall record, and went 15-1 during conference play.

The Pioneers also had several players win awards for their individual accomplishments. In addition to being named East Coast Conference Player for the second consecutive season, senior guard Stefan Bonneau was named the 2012 Division II East Region Player of the Year, as he finished third in the country in scoring at 22.3 points per game. Along with Bonneau, junior guard Tobin Carberry and sophomore forward Vaughn Allen were named to the ECC All-Conference First Team. Carberry averaged 17.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while Allen averaged 15.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. In addition, freshman forward Tyuan Williams was named the 2012 ECC Rookie of the Year. In his first season, Williams put up 8.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest.

Although the Pioneers’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion, the 2011-2012 campaign was a great year for the Pioneers, and there is plenty to look forward to next season.

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