Dietrich’s Perfect Night Propels Crusaders Past Wilkes

Dietrich’s Perfect Night Propels Crusaders Past Wilkes

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – For the second straight game, the Susquehanna men's basketball team made a comeback in the final minute of regulation and came away with an overtime victory. The Crusaders (6-1) defeated Wilkes (6-2), 100-91, on Friday evening in the opening game of the King's Monarch Classic.

Jason Dietrich (Maytown, Pa./Donegal/Kutztown University) finished with 24 points in 24 minutes and went a perfect 9-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. The sophomore buried a game-tying jumper with 29 seconds remaining and added six rebounds, three steals and one assist.

The Crusaders benefited from balancing scoring as Dietrich and five other players finished in double figures; Ryan Traub (Flanders, N.J./Mt. Olive) and Brandon Hedley (Silver Spring, Md./Salisbury Prep.) scored 16 points apiece, Steven Weidlich (Watchung, N.J./Watchung Hills) added 15, Matt McGugan (Silver Spring, Md./Blake) had 12 and Josh Miller (Strasburg, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg)  recorded 11 as well. Hedley led all players with seven assists while Weidlich was close behind with six dimes to only one turnover.

Alec Wizar of Wilkes had a game-high 32 points, though only one of those came in the additional period.

The beginning of the game was tightly contested, but a 9-0 run by SU extended its lead to 22-11 with under nine minutes remaining in the first half. Two layups by Traub and free throws from Connor Mailen (Taylor, Pa./Riverside) helped SU create some distance from the Colonels.

Wilkes was able to shrink its deficit to single digits at 28-36 behind the play of Wizar and a trey from Zach Brunner with two minutes remaining in the half. From there, the Colonels scored the next five points to make it a one-possession game at 33-36, but a last-second layup by Dietrich gave SU a five-point advantage at 38-33 going into halftime.

The Crusaders committed only one personal foul in the half and never sent Wilkes to the line while going 4-of-5 from the stripe.

In the second period, Wilkes tied the game at 42 apiece barely two minutes into the half and pulled ahead 47-42 with a layup by Brunner and a three from Wizar. Four points from McGugan brought SU closer, but the team was unable to tie the game and a run from Wilkes put it ahead 57-50 with 13:29 remaining.

After a timeout, the Crusaders emerged with renewed focus and pulled ahead 59-58 with layups from Weidlich and Dietrich and a three from Hedley. The lead, however, did not last long and the Colonels used seven consecutive points from Brunner to gain a 69-66 advantage.

In a half that featured seven ties and 18 lead changes, free throws proved to be a difference-maker at the end of regulation. Although two free throws put Wilkes ahead 86-80 with a minute remaining, the team was later unable to convert on the first of a one-and-one and a foul sent Traub to the line.
The freshman proceeded to sink the pair and then secure a rebound after another missed free throw by Wilkes to give SU one more possession, which Dietrich converted. A game-saving block by Miller brought the Crusaders to overtime for the second consecutive game.

In the additional period, Susquehanna raced out to an early lead as Weidlich and Hedley both sank threes and Hedley added a layup to give the team a 94-86 lead only two minutes in. Wilkes finally got on the board with 1:19 left, but not before SU added four more points.

The teams traded free throws to end the game and the Crusaders emerged with a 100-91 victory. SU's defense was particularly stingy in overtime as it held the Colonels to only one made basket in eight attempts.

Susquehanna finished 23-of-26 from the charity stripe and posted a field goal percentage of 53 percent, including a 43.8 percent mark from beyond the arc.

The Crusaders play again on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. when they face a familiar opponent in host King's (Pa.) in a rematch of this season's Pepsi Tip-Off tournament final. SU won that game 67-45 and held the Monarchs to 24.6 percent from the field.