SELINSGROVE, Pa. – The game certainly was not for the faint of heart but the Susquehanna men’s basketball team held off a resilient Catholic squad to defeat the Cardinals 69-66 in Wednesday night’s Landmark Conference semifinal matchup. The Crusaders will now travel to Scranton on Saturday for a 2 p.m. Landmark Conference championship game.
SU (17-9) saw a 16-point lead dwindle to just one point with 58 seconds remaining in the game but Harley Sellinger (Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain) secured the win with two clutch free throws and critical defense in the closing seconds. The win gives the Crusaders their first championship appearance since 2009 when Susquehanna fell to Scranton 80-75 in overtime.
Sellinger finished with a double-double with game-highs in both points (19) and rebounds (20). Freshman Steven Weidlich (Watchung, N.J./Watchung Hills) finished with 17 points, an impressive 15 of which came from three-point range. Brandon Hedley (Silver Spring, Md./Salisbury Prep) chipped in 16 points and five assists and senior Jake Eskin (Germantown, Md./Churchill) recorded 12 points and six boards in the final home game of his collegiate career.
As a team, Susquehanna shot 44 percent for the game including a 41.7 percent showing from beyond the arc.
Catholic maintained a lead for the majority of the first half, going up by eight (23-15) on a Jared Prince jumper at the 6:49 mark of the period. However, Phil Madison (Johnstown, Pa./Great Johnstown) tied the game at 23 with a three-pointer and another trey, this time from Hedley, gave Susquehanna a 26-25 edge with four minutes to play in the half.
The Cardinals went ahead on the very next possession, though, and would go into the locker room holding a 30-28 edge as SU failed to score over the final 2:16 of the half.
The second half was a completely different story. Sellinger promptly tied the game at 30 with a layup a mere 10 seconds into the action and Weidlich’s three at the 18:08 mark gave the Crusaders a 33-30 edge, one they would not relinquish.
Weidlich drained another three with 16:02 to play that made it an 11-point game (43-32) and Eskin gave his team a game-high 16-point advantage (50-34) on a jumper with 12:50 remaining.
With 5:33 to play, SU maintained a double-digit lead (63-53) before Catholic put together a 13-4 run that burned nearly five minutes off the clock and made it 67-66 just inside the one-minute mark.
Each team turned the ball over before Catholic’s Bryson Fonville fouled Sellinger during a fight for possession and Sellinger sank both free throws with two ticks on the clock to make it 69-66 and send the Crusaders to the championship game.