Reading, Pa. - Buoyed by a monster
performance from sophomore Brian
Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.), who converted a key
three-point play in the final 30 seconds, visiting Clark stunned a
packed house of 1,313 fans with a miraculous, 69-67,
come-from-behind win over host Albright in the first round of the
2010 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball tournament Friday evening
at the Bollman Center.
Trailing by as many as nine in the second half after leading by nine in the first half, the Cougars (17-12), slowly erased the Lions 57-50 advantage with a 8-0 burst late in the second half.
A breakaway dunk by Mark Alexander (Providence, R.I.) was followed by a three-point play from freshman Tucker Esborn (Branford, Conn.). On Clark's next possession, Alexander dropped in a long-range three to silence a boisterous crowd and give the Cougars a 58-57 edge with 4:51 remaining.
Matt Ashcroft, who proved to be a thorn in Clark's side all evening, answered the Cougar spurt with a driving layup and the subsequent free throw to give Albright a two-point lead. That play ignited a 7-0 Lions' run that gave the hosts a 64-59 lead with less than three minutes to play.
Clark wouldn't go away however, holding Albright scoreless over the next two minutes and Alexander nailed a short jumper and Vayda made four straight free throws to give the Cougars the lead back at 65-64 with 1:30 left.
Commonwealth Coast Conference Player of the Year Zac Shaeffer missed a right side jumper but the Lions got the offensive rebound and worked the ball around to Adam Van Zelst, who found a crease in the lane and attacked the basket, drawing a foul while converting the basket. His free throw put the Lions up two at 67-65 with 45 seconds left - a play that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
That lead was short-lived, however, as Alexander missed a short jumper but Vayda was able to wrestle the ball away from 6-foot-10 Derek Hall and go up strong and finish the play while being fouled. He converted the three-point play and the Cougar edge was 68-67 with 30 seconds remaining.
Shaeffer drove to the basket on the next possession but his layup was short and Chris LoPiano (Franklin Square, N.Y.) was fouled with seven seconds remaining.
He split the free throws, leaving the door open for the Lions to tie or go for the win but they never got a shot off, setting off a wild celebration from the 50 or so Clark fans who made the trip.
In a game that featured nine ties and ten lead changes, Clark took advantage of 15 Albright turnovers, converting them into 27 points.
Vayda finished with game-highs of 28 points, 10 rebounds and four assists on 9-for-15 shooting and a 10-for-11 performance at the charity stripe.
Alexander added 18 points for Clark, who also got eight points and five rebounds from Esborn.
Ashcroft paced the Lions with 23 and Shaeffer added 18 for Albright who sees their season come to an end with a 21-6 overall record.
The Cougars move on to the second round and will face Randolph-Macon, who defeated Cabrini College in the day's first game, 95-66.
April 16, 2010 Minister Selected To Participate In NEBCA All-Star Game
March 18, 2010 Alexander Named Third-Team All-Region By D3Hoops.com
March 6, 2010 Cougars' Run Ends In Second Round
February 28, 2010 The Slipper Fits! Cougars Headed Back To NCAA Tournament
February 27, 2010 Giant Killers - Cougars Knock Off Top Seeded MIT
February 24, 2010 Cougars Advance To NEWMAC Semifinals
February 20, 2010 Vayda's Career-High Not Enough In 75-73 Loss
February 17, 2010 Beavers Get Best Of Cougars, 65-57
February 15, 2010 Alexander Snags Weekly NEWMAC Honor
February 13, 2010 Senior Salute - Cougars Go Out In Style With 71-54 Win
February 11, 2010 Second Half Struggles Sends Cougars To 59-52 Loss To No. 11 MIT
February 6, 2010 Cougars Right Ship At Coast Guard
February 3, 2010 Cougars Let One Get Away At Home
January 27, 2010 Cougars Rally Done In During Final Seconds
January 23, 2010 Phillips Gets Win No. 350 With 64-55 Decision
January 19, 2010 Cougars Can't Keep Up With WPI, 67-57
January 16, 2010 No. 9 Engineers Escape With 54-51 Win
January 12, 2010 Cougars Take Down Tufts, 80-71
January 9, 2010 Vayda's Career-High Helps Cougars To Key Win
January 7, 2010 More Honors Roll In For Alexander
January 6, 2010 Ice Cold Shooting Dooms Cougars In NEWMAC Opener
January 6, 2010 Telegram & Gazette - Clark Has A Keeper
January 4, 2010 Alexander Named NEWMAC Player of the Week
December 30, 2009 Cougars Four Game Win Streak Snapped With 72-71 Loss
December 29, 2009 Alexander, Vayda Push Cougars Past Salem State, 86-81
December 12, 2009 Encore! Encore!: Alexander Shines Again In Blowout Win
December 10, 2009 Alexander The Great - Senior Nets 25 In 82-72 Win
December 5, 2009 Reed All About It! - Powell Powers Clark Past Endicott, 56-52
December 3, 2009 Cougars Drop Second Straight, 69-64
December 1, 2009 Cougars Come Up Short To No. 23 Brandeis
November 24, 2009 Cougars Escape With 54-46 Win
November 21, 2009 Cougars Capture Title Behind Alexander, MVP Vayda
November 20, 2009 Big First Half Pushes Cougars To Title Game
November 18, 2009 Clark Comes Up Short At Rhode Island College, 74-72
November 16, 2009 Cougars Power Past Fitchburg State, 92-70
November 8, 2009 Telegram & Gazette: Making A Name For Himself