NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Philadelphia University men's basketball team's 2013-14 season came to an end with a 66-65 loss to Franklin Pierce in a back-and-forth opening round NCAA Division II East Region Tournament contest played Saturday night in Moore Field House on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University.
Philadelphia concludes the year with an overall record of 25-7. The Rams won 25 games for the 11th time under Hall of Fame head coach Herb Magee and claimed their third Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference championship.
Magee ends his 47th season at the helm of the Rams with 985 career victories.
Franklin Pierce improves to 21-7 overall, and has a date with host Southern Connecticut, an 89-73 winner over Bridgeport, in the second round on Sunday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Sophomore forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) led the Philadelphia offense with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He became the 53rd player in program history—the third this season joining senior Nick Christian (Bensalem, Pa./Bensalem) and junior guard Nick Schiltzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville)—to score 1,000 career points with a 4-foot bank shot at the 12:51 mark of the opening half.
Sophomore forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) poured in 15 points and sophomore guard Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) scored 11 points. In his final collegiate game, Christian had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Ellis Cooper paced the Ravens with a game-high 24 points, including the eventual game-winning free throws with 17 seconds remaining. Cooper shot 7-of-11 from the field and 10-of-12 at the free throw line.
Adrianos Vourliotakis chipped in with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Ryen Vilmont added 14 points.
The contest featured 21 lead changes and 11 ties.
Trailing 10-8, the Rams rattled off nine straight points on three Johnson free throws and three Alexis baskets to take a game-high seven-point lead (17-10) at the 12:18 mark.
Franklin Pierce came back with a 10-2 surge, capped by a pair of Cooper free throws with 8:29 left in the half, to reclaim the lead at 22-21.
With 45 seconds to play in the first half, Johnson converted a 3-point play that put the Rams ahead 32-28. The Ravens' Curtis Christian drained a left corner 3-pointer to trim the Rams' lead to 32-31.
Cooper opened the second half with a tip-in and a fast break dunk to quickly put Franklin Pierce ahead 35-32.
After Christian hit two free throws with 16:52 left to play to put Philadelphia up 38-37, the Ravens answered with five straight points to take a team-best four-point lead (42-38) on a Vourliotakis triple at the 15:55 mark.
Back-to-back three's from Johnson and Gibbs broke a 51-all tie and gave the Rams a 57-53 lead with 7:47 left. Once again Franklin Pierce had an answer with seven straight points to grab a 60-57 advantage on a Vilmont tip-in with 4:53 to play.
Gibbs drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to cap off a 6-2 surge and allowed Philadelphia to take a 63-62 lead with 1:29 left. Paul Becklens and Alexis traded layups to keep the Rams' cushion at one.
After Cooper hit the two free throws to put the Ravens up one, the Rams had numerous chances to win the game.
Philadelphia got the ball into the frontcourt and called timeout with 11 seconds left. Out of the stoppage Donte Gittens stole inbounds pass and was immediately fouled. Gittens missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Christian grabbed the rebound giving the Rams the final shot.
After the Rams took their final timeout, Schlitzer's right wing 3-pointer came up short. Johnson grabbed the rebound in the lane, but his last-ditch effort at the buzzer bounced off the rim.