FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2016
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BERKELEY COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM CLAIMS EIGHTH HVIAC TITLE IN PROGRAM HISTORY
Knights erase 13-point first-half deficit to defeat Vaughn College 90-70
The Berkeley College Men's Basketball team overcame adversity in the early stages of the 2016 Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) men's basketball championship game to defeat the Vaughn College Warriors by a score of 90-70 on Sunday at the Wellness Center on the campus of the College of New Rochelle. With the victory – the Knights won their second consecutive conference title – and eighth since the program's inception. The win was also the 21st consecutive triumph for Berkeley College, and that is the longest winning streak by any team – in any sport – in the institution's history. The Warriors – who a day earlier turned back Albany College of Pharmacy in the semifinal round of the tournament – dipped to 16-6 with the defeat.
The Knights jumped ahead by a score of 7-2 over the first 90 seconds of the game, with those seven points coming courtesy of a three-point basket and a layup by Massiah Merritt, and another layup by Dondre Simmons. Over the ensuing 7:32, Vaughn College would put together a 25-7 run to jump out in front by 13 points – 27-14 – with 10:58 remaining in the opening session. The Warriors' Michael Pena led the charge with 14 points during that run, while Maleec Taylor dropped in six during that span.
Following a full time-out by Berkeley College, the Knights appeared to settle in. Six consecutive points by Merritt – and another two by Stephon Jennings – pulled the Knights to within five points at 27-22. After a converted layup by Vaughn College's Eric McDonald put the Warriors back up by seven, Berkeley College would put together five consecutive points – including two baskets in the paint by Jennings – to inch to within four at 31-27 with 5:38 remaining in the first half.
Over the ensuing 2:09 of action, neither team was able to score until Berkeley's Johnnie Green converted on a pair of layups during the Knights' next two possessions to tie the game at 31 apiece. The Knights would then outscore Vaughn College 5-2 the remainder of the half to head into the locker room with a 36-33 advantage.
After netting a modest 36 points in the opening half, Berkeley College followed the script it has used for a majority of its games this season by scoring a bundle of points in session number two. The Knights connected on 17 of their 31 attempts from the floor in the second stanza, eventually netting a whopping 54 points for the half while pulling away from Vaughn College gradually. Berkeley's defense also allowed only six Vaughn College field goals in the final 11 minutes overall, as well.
Massiah Merritt – who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player following the conclusion of the game – finished his afternoon with a phenomenal line – as he connected on nine of his 15 attempts from the floor to finish with a game-high 29 points. Additionally, he drilled seven of his 11 shots from the charity stripe, while also recording a game-high seven assists and pulling down five rebounds. Teammate Johnnie Green – who was named to the All-Tournament team, put together a strong effort with a double-double, netting 28 points, snatching 14 rebounds, and blocking a pair of shots. Finally – it was Stephon Jennings contributing with 10 points and nine rebounds. Following the victory, Head Coach Chris Christiansen gave his thoughts.
"Today's game was a true example of this team's resilience," Coach Christiansen said. "Vaughn College played with a tremendous amount of intensity in the early stages, building a big lead during the opening 10 minutes of the game, but our guys stayed focused, never panicked, and found a way to get themselves back into the game. These student-athletes trust one another and believe in one another – and that team-wide confidence led us to a championship today. I could not be more proud of what we accomplished today against a very hungry and feisty Warriors team. We will enjoy this one for a few days before setting our sights on the USCAA National Men's Basketball Tournament."
Despite the loss for Vaughn College, Michael Pena netted a team-best 25 points to go along with seven rebounds and five steals, and Maleec Taylor added 13 points, three assists, and three steals. Finally, it was Sergio Mejia just missing a double-double, as he recorded 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Pena and Mejia were named to the All-Tournament team following the game, and filling out the All-Tournament squad were Albany College of Pharmacy's Alex Johnson, and SUNY-ESF's Ryan Treadwell.
Berkeley College shot 51.7 percent in its victory (31-60), while the Warriors connected on just 41 percent of their attempts from the floor (25-61). The Knights held a 42-33 edge on the glass, while also collecting 20 assists compared to 11 for the opposition. Both teams had 18 turnovers apiece, and Berkeley held a commanding edge in the paint, netting 44 points there compared to 26 for Vaughn College.
With the victory, the Knights have received an automatic bid to the 2016 USCAA National Men's Basketball Tournament. Berkeley College will have a chance to defend the title it won a season ago, and the Knights will learn who their opponent/potential opponents will be during Tuesday's selection show. For the latest information on Berkeley College's quest for another National crown, keep it posted to www.BerkeleyCollegeKnights.com, as well aswww.theuscaa.com.
A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls approximately 8,300 students – including more than 700 international students – in its Baccalaureate and Associate degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers a Master of Business Administration degree in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ.
Berkeley College has three New York locations – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are six locations – Clifton, Dover, Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. In January 2016, U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College one of the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Degrees for the third consecutive year. The website address iswww.BerkeleyCollege.edu.