PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia University men's basketball will square off against Franklin Pierce in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in Moore Field House on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University.
The fifth-seeded Rams (25-6) earned their spot in the tournament field by winning the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship on March 8 with a 42-41 triumph over Holy Family. Philadelphia enters Saturday's contest on a five-game winning streak.
Philadelphia is led by Daktronics NCAA Division II Men's Basketball All-East Region first team and All-CACC first team selection Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer). The sophomore forward is leading the team in scoring (18.1 points per game), rebounding (9.5 rebounds per game), field goal shooting (60.5 percent), field goals made (236), blocks (56), minutes per game (37.6), and double-doubles (15).
Junior guard Nick Schlitzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville), an All-CACC second team pick, is contributing 15.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 69 assists. He is shooting a CACC-best 43.9 percent from 3-point range, making 72 3-pointers this season that is fourth in the conference.
All-CACC third team selection sophomore forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) has chipped in with 15.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg. Johnson has made two game-winning shots this season, including a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left in a 59-56 win over USciences in the semifinal round of the CACC Tournament. He was the CACC Tournament's MVP.
Franklin Pierce (20-7) is the five seed and received an at-large bid into the tournament. The Ravens have lost their two contests. In its last game, Franklin Pierce was upended by Le Moyne in the Northeast-10 Tournament first round, 73-59, on March 2.
Forward Ellis Cooper, who was named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II Men's Basketball All-East Region second team and the All-Northeast-10 first team, is tops on the Ravens in scoring (18.2 ppg), rebounding (8.1 per game), field goal shooting (56.2 percent), and steals (43).
Ryen Wilmont is adding 16.0 ppg and 6.1 rpg. The All-Northeast-10 second team selection is leading the NE-10 in free throw shooting (90.9 percent) and is fifth in the conference in 3-point shooting (45.2 percent).
All-Northeast-10 rookie team pick Donte Gittens chipped in with 9.6 ppg and 45 blocks.
Adrianos Vourliotakis is averaging 10.6 ppg and Paul Becklens has 49 assists in 12 games.
Saturday's game is the third meeting between Philadelphia and Franklin Pierce, and the second in the last three seasons. The Rams are 0-2 against the Ravens, 0-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The last meeting between the schools came in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division II East Region Tournament, a 59-58 win by the top-seeded Ravens.
The Philadelphia-Franklin winner games the winner of the No. 1 seed Southern Connecticut/No. 8 seed Bridgeport contest in a semifinal round game on Sunday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.