College Basketball: Cheyney 100, Pfeiffer 90
By Mike London
MISENHEIMER ó Pfeiffer’s Davon Gilliard was smacked to the floor on a hard drive midway through the second half, and four teammates immediately sprinted over to lift him back on his feet.
Eventually, however, Pfeiffer’s basketball team stayed down for the count on Sunday night.
Cheyney guards Sharif Bray and Kevin Presbery combined for 59 points as the Philadelphia-based Wolves floored Pfeiffer 100-90 in the first round of the Highway 52 Shootout.
Bray scored 33 points, including 22 in the first half. He buried three 3-pointers in the opening minutes at Merner Gym to put the Falcons on their heels right away.
“You give props where props are due, and I’ll give it to him,” Pfeiffer senior James Crowder said. “I don’t know if he was just on tonight or if he’s always like that, but that guy couldn’t miss.”
Post man Chris Woods led the cold-shooting Falcons with 27 points and eight rebounds. Crowder and Jeff Pettiway contributed 14 points each, while Galliard scored 13.
“We’re a new team, with even our returners playing new roles, and tonight we played like a new team,” Pfeiffer coach Dave Davis said. “It’s a really tough loss and some of our guys played their worst games, but we still took good things out of this.”
While Pfeiffer took good things out of it, Cheyney took the win by shooting 50 percent from the floor and turning it over less than the Falcons. Always frenetic, Pfeiffer doesn’t often lose the turnover battle, but this time it did.
“We played Pfeiffer several years ago (when he was an assistant at Cheyney), and we were just shocked by their style and pace,” Cheyney coach Dominique Stephens said. “This time I wasn’t shocked. We were prepared. We’d done a lot of extra sprints and conditioning. We came ready for a track meet, and that’s what it was.”
Pfeiffer won the boards big ó 31-17 on the offensive glass ó but it struggled to finish. The Falcons missed 15 free throws and at least than many 6-footers in the lane.
“Well, we shot a sizzling 34 percent,” said Davis, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Bray’s torrid shooting allowed Cheyney to jump on top, but Pfeiffer’s Vonte Eaford and Pettiway took back-to-back charges to turn momentum. Pfeiffer was in good shape at halftime ó down by a manageable 54-52 despite Bray’s heroics.
“Our game is to keep running and to eventually run you in the ground,” Crowder said.
But the wolves wouldn’t wilt, not even after Woods got the entire roster in foul trouble. Cheyney lost one player to personals. Five others finished with four fouls each. Bray picked up his critical fourth foul with 8:15 remaining, and the Wolves clinging to a 78-74 lead.
“We had to strategize, using guys for offense or defense,” Stephens said. “It became a chess match.”
Pfeiffer still didn’t appear to be in serious trouble until Woods picked up up his fourth foul on the offensive end with 6:13 to go, and the Falcons trailing 85-82.
Next came a game-turning hustle play by the Wolves ó Rob Townsend went flying out of bounds to save the ball to Presbery for a layup. Soon, the Falcons were down double digits and desperate.
Cheyney’s 315-pound widebody Charles Brazzle airballed a free-throw attempt, but he shook off hoots from the crowd, calmly made the next one and pushed the lead to 96-84 with 2:29 left.
A 3-pointer by James Morse helped the Falcons creep back to 96-90, but Presbery’s stickback with 27 seconds to go was the clincher and propelled Cheyney into tonight’s 7 p.m. championship game against Catawba.
“We’ll see what our guys have left,” Stephens said. “After you play against a team that runs like Pfeiffer, there’s wear and tear.”
CHEYNEY (100) ó Bray 33, Presbery 26, Brazzle 13, Townsend 13, Matos 7, Petty 4, Kennedy 2, Sanders 2, Blassingame, Inge. PFEIFFER (90) ó Woods 27, Pettiway 14, Gilliard 13, Crowder 13, Carr 6, Truesdale 5, Morse 4, Jordan 4, Rivera 3, Eaford 1, Yamaguchi.
Cheyney 54 46 ó 100
Pfeiffer 52 38 ó 90