Steven Weidlich scored 31 points and led four players into double figures scoring as the Susquehanna University Men's Basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament with an 89-82 win over Medialle College at O.W. Houts Gymnasium in Selinsgrove.
Susquehanna (22-5) will play Eastern Connecticut State in the second round game at 7 p.m. in Houts Gym. Eastern Connecticut (21-8) advanced to the second round with an 86-70 win over MIT (21-7).
Weidlich scored 31, Ryan Traub scored 20 and Tyler Hoagland and Dalton Reichard each added 12 but it was three 3-pointers by Seth Callahan in the first half that seemed to spark the River Hawks and get the capacity crowd excited.
"That's what he does," said Weidlich at the postgame press conference about Callahan. "When he comes in and I move to the point, it's my job to get him the ball as much as possible."
Callahan was in the game for less than two minutes before he drained his first 3-pointer. Just 25 second later he nailed another long shot to tie the game at 24-24 after Medaille had built a lead of as many as eight points in the first half.
Two minutes later, Callahan struck again and the River Hawks had built a 32-27 lead as Susquehanna had put together an 18-8 run and the River Hawks never trailed again.
Medialle cut the lead to a single point with 5:20 remaining in the first but Susquehanna finished the half with a 9-4 run to take a 41-35 lead into the break.
The River Hawks opened the second half with a 14-4 run to build a 16-point lead and led by 18 with 12:35 left to play.
The Mavericks battled back and chipped away at the lead until it was just six points at 82-76 with three minutes to play.
Solid free throw shooting down the stretch helped the River Hawks hold off the late charge by Medaille.
"We looked like our old selves tonight," said head coach Frank Marcinek. "We didn't play well in our last couple games but a lot of what we have been doing all year came back tonight. We had a little more bounce in our step and it showed with our shooting in the first half."
The River Hawks connected on nearly 50 percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes and hit 9-of-19 3-pointers in the first half.
The biggest impact of Callahan's play was the way it ignited the home crowd.
"That environment was awesome," said Traub. "I had goosebumps when we came out tonight. The crowd was a big factor and I hope they are there again tomorrow."