Assistant Sports Editor
Amid a late-season playoff push, the Scranton men’s basketball team split a pair of conference games last week.
First, Scranton (11-12 overall, 7-5 conference) captured a crucial victory over Drew University, the top team in the Landmark Conference, Thursday.
Sophomore guard Kyle DeVerna scored a team-high 20 points in the 77-65 road win, making the Royals the only team to defeat Drew (16-7, 9-3) twice this season.
The Royals took a 10-point lead into the locker room after a 7-2 run to end the half. The Rangers pulled within five, but Scranton kept up the energy and never surrendered the lead.
Senior center Drew Schankweiler compiled a monster game, finishing with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
“They’re a very talented team with a lot of great offensive weapons, so we really emphasized what we were going to do on defense,” Schankweiler said. “We really wanted them to have the move the ball around and that’s what we did and we executed great.”
Sophomore forward Matthew Mancuso also added a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the victory while senior Yonathan Napoleon led Drew with 18 points.
The upset drastically improved Scranton’s chances of making the conference playoffs. Not one Landmark team has clinched a berth yet with the standings so tight.
Schankweiler posted big numbers again on Wall of Fame Day, but the Royals could not contain The Catholic University of America’s second-half rally.
Scranton committed 17 turnovers and lost an 18-point lead as the Cardinals stormed back to steal the victory, 81-79. Catholic senior Jay Howard led the Cardinals with 32 points.
“That game hurt,” Schankweiler said. “But that’s just the way it goes sometimes. This conference has been teams beating up on each other left and right.”
The Royals made nine first-half 3-pointers to extend the lead to 48-35 at halftime. Schankweiler and Matthew Mancuso tied with a team-high 19 points.
Catholic (13-10, 7-5) engineered an 8-1 run late in the game to take a one-point lead, and Howard sealed the deal by making two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining.
The Royals were unable to get a shot off at the buzzer.
“We just have to get ready for the next one, control what we can control, and hopefully some of these other teams will lose and we’ll get that last playoff spot,” Schankweiler said. “From there, anybody can win the championship. It doesn’t matter what seed you are.”
Losing the tiebreaker with Catholic, the Royals are slotted fifth in the Landmark standings. With six teams still mathematically eligible for one of four playoff seeds, these last two games of the season are pivotal.
Scranton is on the road to close out the season. The Royals take on Susquehanna University (9-13, 6-6) 7 p.m. Wednesday and then Goucher College (0-22, 012) 2 p.m. Saturday.