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St. Vincent men's basketball team plays tough

| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

There is only one option for St. Vincent men's basketball coach D.P. Harris, he said, and he got a glimpse of it during the Bearcats' first exhibition game of the season at Robert Morris.

“Whether we offer scholarships or no scholarships, our brand of basketball is tough,” Harris said after St. Vincent's gritty 81-67 loss on Thursday to the Division I Colonials, who are picked to finished second in the Northeast Conference behind two-time defending champion Long Island.

The Colonials, who received three of the 12 first-place votes in the league's annual preseason poll, finished as the conference tournament runner-up in 2011, narrowly missing a bid to the NCAA Tournament. They went on to reach the quarterfinals of the collegeinsider.com Tournament, finishing the year with a 26-11 record.

Prior to switching affiliation to NCAA Division III, St. Vincent was able to provide athletics scholarships at the NAIA level. Division III schools are prohibited from offering athletic aid.

So be it, said Harris.

“We have a lot of options returning this year and we're going to try to use every one of them,” he said. “We can rebound and we can score. We have a lot of options to go deep into the bench.”

Behind the hot shooting of point guard Chris Klimchock, who made three consecutive 3-point shots in a span of 1 minute, 4 seconds, St. Vincent crept within 10 points of the homestanding Colonials.

Isaac Turner's free throw with 2:08 left kept St. Vincent within 77-67. Turner connected on 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range in the first half and was 4 for 8 for the game, while Klimchock hit 4 of 6 from behind the arc.

“I couldn't be happier where I'm at now,” said Klimchock, a Greensburg Central Catholic High School product who began his college career at Division II Edinboro before transferring to St. Vincent during the 2011 season.

“Coach Harris has given me an incredible opportunity. It's going to make a big difference for me to be here all year rather than come in in the middle of the season like I did last year.”

Turner led St. Vincent with 19 points. Klimchock, despite a game-high nine turnovers, added 14 points. He is the Bearcats' leading returning scorer (11.2 ppg) this season following the graduation of Dennis Bassich (16.7) and Tauvon Pettiford (11.8).

Dillon Stith, the team's leading rebounder (5.6 rpg) and the return of 6-foot-8 Grant Latus from a year-long injury should bolster St. Vincent.

“We're trying to push the ball in our transition game,” Klimchock said. “I'm not concerned about turning it over like that. This is a tough place to play and we were very anxious to start the game because we were playing a Division I team.”

St. Vincent outscored Robert Morris, 36-27, in the second half.

“If we can play consistent defense,” Klimchock said, “we can have a chance to win any game in our league.”

St. Vincent opens its Presidents' Athletic Conference schedule on Dec. 1 against visiting Westminster (Pa.). The Bearcats' season opener is Nov. 16 at Virginia Wesleyan, ranked No. 1 in the preseason by D-III News and No. 2 by D3hoops.com.

For the St. Vincent women's team, former All-American Brittany Sedlock, has joined the Bearcats' coaching staff as an assistant after helping to lead them to a pair of NCAA Division III Tournament appearances the past two seasons.

Perhaps Sedlock's continued presence will inspire St. Vincent to a third consecutive trip.

The season kicked off Oct. 26 with the first Green & Gold scrimmage at Carey Center.

“It provided the St. Vincent community a first-hand opportunity to see the team in action as we look to begin our quest for a third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance,” coach Jimmy Petruska said.

Each team consisted of eight players — seniors Devin McGrath and Jordan Clinton, sophomores Emily Satkovich, Ally Schmidt, Kelley Sedlock and Jessica Welch, and freshmen Ashlee Darby and Ashley Young comprised the Gold team; and seniors Melissa Mansur and Savannah Hardy, juniors Taylor Mathers and Ariel Rocco, sophomores Elle Collins and Jessica Hentrel and freshmen Jillian Kegg and Drew Meeker made up the Green team.

Sedlock led St. Vincent in scoring in 2011, averaging 16.7 points per game. McGrath is the leading returning scorer and last season's second-leading point producer (12.9 ppg). Fenton also averaged double figures (11.7).

St. Vincent opens its schedule on Nov. 16 against Juniata at the La Roche Classic. The Bearcats' first PAC game is Nov. 28 at Chatham.

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