St. Vincent clinches No. 1 seed in PAC tournament
After the rowdiness had subsided Saturday at St. Vincent's Carey Center, coach D.P. Harris gazed up at the line of postseason men's basketball banners adorning the back wall of the Division III gymnasium.
“Look at all those banners,” Harris said. “This is the first time we've had this type of excitement here since we've gone to Division III. Excitement only comes with winning.”
Isaac Turner scored 23 points to lead six St. Vincent players in double figures, and Grant Latus set a new school record with 10 blocked shots as the Bearcats beat Thomas More, 88-79, in overtime to earn the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the Presidents' Athletic Conference Tournament.
St. Vincent (20-5, 15-1) will open Tuesday against the winner of a preliminary-round game between Geneva and Westminster (Pa.).
A near overflow crowd of 1,234 witnessed a physical affair. The teams combined for 58 fouls and 91 free throws. Afterward, a throng of students rushed the court and celebrated, creating a scene that St. Vincent's players said they'd never seen there before.
“I'm just so excited right now; I don't know what to say,” said Turner, a junior guard who finished 13 for 14 from the free-throw line, including 7 of 8 in overtime. “This crowd really gave us a boost.”
St. Vincent led Thomas More (21-4, 14-2) by as many as 16 points in the second half before the Saints rallied to force overtime on two free throws by D'Carlo Hayes, who scored 29 points.
But St. Vincent scored the first seven points in overtime — four by Dillon Stith — to take a 78-71 lead, and Thomas More could not recover.
Stith added 15 points and 13 rebounds, Chris Klimchock had 14 points and Kett contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds for St. Vincent.
Klimchock, a Greensburg Salem product, re-injured a sprained ankle midway through the second half and did not return.
“Chris has been a terrific point guard all year for us,” Turner said. “He really sets the table and we needed him in this game. We're fortunate to come out on top.”
Klimchock, a 5-foot-8 senior, transferred from Division II Edinboro midway through last season and entered the game averaging 15 points.
“Ever since I made the move back, I knew St. Vincent was the right choice,” Klimchock said. “It's been fun. We've really gelled.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.