NEAC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Men’s Basketball vs. Morrisville St.

NEAC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Men’s Basketball vs. Morrisville St.

For the fourth time in their five year program history, the Wells College men's basketball program has reached the North Eastern Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game. The 2012-13 NEAC Men's Basketball Championship game will be played this Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2:00 p.m. on the campus of Morrisville State College. The Express will face-off against the tournament hosts and the reigning NEAC champions from the 2011-12 men's basketball season.

The Express last collected a NEAC championship in the 2010-11 season, knocking off the Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Harrisburg by a 75-72 overtime score. Wells defeated the Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Berks by an 82-61 victory Saturday night in the NEAC semifinal match-up. With an overall record of 13-13 entering the championship game, the Express will look to avoid falling below .500 overall for only the first time in program history.

The winner of Sunday's game earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament.

LAST TIME OUT: Junior Jonathan Hurtado (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored 25 points and chipped in 11 rebounds as the Wells College men's basketball team posted an 82-61 victory against the Nittany Lions of Penn St.-Berks in the North Eastern Athletic Conference semifinal game Saturday afternoon on the campus of Morrisville State College. The victory moves the Express to 13-13 overall while the Nittany Lions see their season come to a close with a 13-12 overall record.

Junior E.J. Taylor (Tampa Bay, Fla.) finished behind Hurtado, posting 19 total points while tying with his classmate with four steals. Taylor, who poured home four three-point field goals, also chipped in with two assists. Sophomore J.J. Walton (Ocala, Fla.) finished with 15 points, shooting 7-of-9 from the field while posting seven rebounds. Junior Al Paul (Elmont, N.Y.) rounded out the double-digit point scorers for Wells, tallying 11 points.

SCOUTING WELLS: E.J. Taylor was the lone Wells student-athlete named to NEAC All-Conference as the junior drew Second Team merits following a poll of the conference coaches…Taylor is currently ranked third in the NEAC with 16.4 points per game…Taylor has posted double-digit point totals in all but five games on the season  and is riding a streak of 11 games played with at least 12 points scored…Hurtado has recorded double-digit point totals in all but four games for the Express…Paul and Taylor rank fourth and fifth, respectively, with free throw percentages of 81.1% and 78.3%...Against conference opponents, Paul is shooting 83.8% from the charity stripe, ranking him second overall…Taylor's 35.4 minutes per game rank him fifth in the conference in that category…Against conference opponents, Taylor averages 37.2 minutes per game…Bonds leads the team in rebounds with 189 to his credit, averaging 7.3 per game…Taylor leads the squad in takeaways (47) while Walton leads the way with 60 assists…Behind Taylor (16.4), Hurtado (15.1) and Paul (10.1) are the only other double-digit point per game scorers on the team…The Express are 4-2 across their last six road games after opening the year 0-6…Entering this game, the Express are 6-1 dating back to an 87-77 victory over SUNYIT on Jan. 27…The Express move to 3-0 in neutral site games on the year following the defeat of Penn St.-Berks on Saturday…Taylor and Hurtado have either tied for the team lead or held first place outright in points scored for the Express in all but two games (11/25/12 at Hartwick, junior Jonathan Bonds (Chicago, Ill.)/freshman Jordan Bishop (Arlington, Texas) with 10 points; 1/13/13 vs. Gallaudet, Bonds with 14 points)…Wells has posted at least three field goals from beyond the arc in all of their last nine games…Wells has also buried at least 11 free throws in each of the last eight games.

SCOUTING MORRISVILLE ST.: The Mustangs had three players selected to NEAC All-Conference teams including Rhamel Williams (First Team), Brandon Hanks (Third Team) and Kucjok Ater (Third Team)…During the regular season, Williams ranked fifth nationally amongst all NCAA Division III players with 3.21 steals per game…As a team, the Mustangs rank 18th nationally with 10.8 steals per game, on average…Their rebound margin of eight is ranked 15th in the nation…With a 19-5 regular season record, the Mustangs rank 42nd in the nation with a 79.2% winning percentage…Averaging 79.3 points per game during the regular season, their offense was ranked 28th nationally…Jordan Prior leads all qualifying NEAC players with a 48.8% three point percentage…Despite having the top scoring offense in the NEAC, the Mustangs boast zero players within the top-20 in the conference in scoring – Mickey Davis is 21st overall in the conference with 11.4 points per game…Morrisville State has four players that boast field goal percentages that rank within the top-15 in the conference.

ALL-TIME vs. MORRISVILLE ST.: In all-time program history, the Mustangs hold a 5-4 advantage over the Express…Wells is 1-4 in their last five games against Morrisville…The Express are 0-4 on the road against the Mustangs…Wells last claimed victory against the Mustangs on Feb. 7, 2012, an 82-62 win…Last time out, Morrisville St. poured home 12 three-pointers on Feb. 6, 2013, the highest amount of "three's" by any team against Wells. The Mustangs' free throw percentage of 83.3% (15-of-18) was also the highest by any Wells opponent this season.

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