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Men's Basketball Opens 2002 Against Second Straight Nationally Ranked Opponent
01/02/2002

FROSTBURG, MD — The Frostburg State men's basketball team will begin the New Year as it ended 2001 - by facing a nationally ranked opponent.

The Bobcats, who dropped an 80-71 road contest to No. 2 Christopher Newport in their last outing December 22, take a 5-4 record into Thursday night's game against 19th ranked Clark (Mass.) University in the first round of the Franklin & Marshall 22nd Annual Lancaster Rotary Tip-Off the New Year Tournament at the Mayser Center in Lancaster, Pa.

The host Diplomats, 10-0 and ranked No. 3 in the latest d3hoops.com poll, will face Lincoln University (1-8) in Thursday's other first-round game at 8 p.m. The tournament concludes Friday with the consolation and championship games at 6 and 8 p.m., respectively.

Frostburg State is led by junior forward Pierre Bowery, who tops the squad with 20.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Bowery has been on fire as of late, averaging 25.8 points and 9.5 rebounds in his last four games.

Limited to just six first-half minutes because of foul trouble against CNU, Bowery exploded for 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half as the Bobcats cut a 17-point deficit to only five with just under a minute left.

Bobcat senior point guard Sean Brown is adding 18.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and a team-best 6.4 assists per contest. He scored 11 points and dished out 7 assists against CNU but saw his string of five straight 20-point games come to an end.

Junior A.J. Ernst is third in scoring at 9.8 points per game and is shooting a team-high 43.5 percent (20-of-46) from three-point range. He has also hit all 14 of his free-throw attempts this season.

While giving the nation's second ranked team a late scare, Hatch pointed to a lack of offensive execution and several defensive lapses that the Bobcats will need to improve upon in order to have success against Clark (7-2), whose two losses have come by a combined five points.

"Clark likes to dribble penetrate, and we haven't defended that well this season." said Hatch. "They have five players averaging in double figures, and a huge key will be how we defend them."

Clark, which finished 25-4 and reached the NCAA Division III Elite Eight last season, boasts an offense that is averaging 88.1 points per game.

Junior guard Sean Fleming tops the squad with 17.2 points per game, while sophomore guard Dave McNamara is adding 15.9 points per contest. Sophomore forward Trevor Walker (15.6), junior center Chris Bagdis (10.2) and senior forward Amos Anderson (10.0) also own double-digit scoring averages.

The Bobcats are coming off a solid performance on the boards and at the free throw line against CNU (FSU held a 45-40 rebounding advantage, including an 18-10 edge on the offensive end, and hit 20-of-27 from the charity stripe), and they can take some satisfaction in taking a nationally ranked team to the wire despite a subpar performance.

"We didn't play the way we're capable of playing (against Christopher Newport)," said Hatch. "At the same time, we're not that far away from being able to play with teams in the top 20."

Hatch and his Bobcats will get another chance to prove that Thursday night.

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-4371
Fax: 301-687-4780
E-mail: sportsinfo@frostburg.edu