FROSTBURG, MD —
The Frostburg State men's basketball team is used to having to work its way to the top, having advanced to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship game as the tournament's No. 3 seed each of the last two years.
The Bobcats won the title in 2001 before falling in overtime last year, and, if they hope to reach a third straight final, they'll have to knock off a much-improved Lake Erie team in Wednesday night's first-round action beginning at 7:00 pm in Painesville, Ohio.
Frostburg State (11-15, 5-7 AMCC), the No. 5 seed, dropped both regular-season meetings with the fourth-seeded Storm. The Bobcats fell, 88-82, on the road January 11 and then dropped a heart-breaking 71-69 on Storm senior guard Brandon Henderson's game-winning jumper with 3.6 seconds left February 1 in Frostburg.
The Bobcats were without three key players in each contest and will be looking for a different result with a healthy squad.
"Up there, we were without T.J. Dorsey, Kamillo Rosenthal and Jamar Nolan, and down here, we lost A.J. Ernst to an injury early in the game and were still missing Kamillo and Jamar," said Bobcat Head Coach Webb Hatch. "We didn't play well either time, but we know we can compete with them."
The Bobcats, who enter the tournament winners of five of their last six games, are led by senior Pierre Bowery (Kensington, Md./Einstein). The 6-5 forward tops the squad in both scoring (19.8) and rebounding (7.4), and he has averaged 26.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the two contests with the Storm this year.
He tied his career-high of 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Painesville, and he added 18 points and 13 rebounds in Frostburg.
Senior A.J. Ernst (Minster, Ohio/Minster) is scoring 11.3 points per game and tops FSU with 41 made three-pointers. He had just five points in the first meeting but scored four points in five minutes of the second contest before suffering a back injury after a hard fall under the basket.
Junior Myro Small (Berlin, Md./Stephen Decatur) recorded his lone double-double of the season with a 19-point, 10-rebound effort in the first game, while freshman T.J. Dorsey (Round Hill, Va./Loudoun Valley) hit for 16 points in the narrow home loss.
Lake Erie (11-13, 6-6) finished its season with a pair of wins, including an improbable 73-67 upset of two-time defending regular-season champion Pitt-Bradford. The Storm trailed, 25-4, at one point before pulling ahead for good in the final minutes.
Henderson paces Lake Erie in scoring at 16.3 points per game, and he is also averaging 5.2 rebounds per contest. Junior guard Tony Tibayan is adding 12.1 points and 5.0 assists per game, while junior forward Aaron Johnson, who blitzed FSU with 32 points in the 88-82 win, is scoring 11.5 points per contest.
Junior center Mike Rustifo is the fourth Storm player averaging double-digits at 11.3 points per game, and he tops the squad in rebounding at 5.5 caroms per outing.
Wednesday's winner will advance to the AMCC semifinals to face No. 1 seed and tournament host Penn State Behrend (18-7, 10-2) on Friday at 1:00 pm.
In Wednesday's other first-round contests, No. 7 Penn State Altoona (1-24, 0-12) visits No. 2 La Roche (14-11, 8-4) and No. 6 Pitt-Greensburg travels to No. 3 Pitt-Bradford (19-6, 8-4). The winners of those two games will meet in the other semifinal contest Friday at 3:00 pm at Penn State Behrend.
The championship will be held on Saturday at 1:00 pm.
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303