(Harrisburg, Pa.)─ Let the dancing begin. The Wells College men's basketball team (17-11, 13-5 NEAC) claimed the North Eastern Athletic Conference Championship with a thrilling 75-72 overtime upset victory over host and No. 1 seed Penn. St. Harrisburg (15-11, 13-5 NEAC) on Sunday afternoon in Middleton, Pa. With the victory the Express clinch the NEAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Tournament set to begin Thursday evening.
It was redemption of sorts for the Express who had fallen in the previous two NEAC Championships to SUNY IT, while also losing both regular season games to Penn. St. Harrisburg.
Tournament MVP Terry Harrison (Brooklyn, N.Y./Forest Hills) paced the Express with 20 points and nine rebounds. Andre Sawyers (Bronx, N.Y./Mt. St. Michaels), the only active Express player to be a part all three championship games, had yet another impressive performance, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds; while Dave Foltz (Auburn, N.Y./Auburn) added 14 points in 45 minutes of play
The Express shot 40 percent from the floor, including 5 of 14 from behind the arc, and 26 of 44 from the charity stripe, while holding the advantage on the boards 42-30.
Foltz scored the game's first bucket and two straight 3-pointers by Benito Perez (Crystal City, Texas/Crystal City) just minutes later gave the Express their largest lead of the half (21-16). The Nittany Lions battled back to a take a late 32-30 lead but Sawyers finished a lay-up with second remaining, tying the game at 32-32 heading into halftime.
The second half was just as close as the first, featuring five ties and five lead changes. Holding a slight 63-60 lead with less than a minute to play, the Express missed two free-throws, opening the door for the Nittany Lions. Deavan Kelly responded for Harrisburg, drilling a game tying three with 36-seconds to play, forcing overtime.
Tied at 68-68 in overtime, the Express went on a 5-0 run to take the lead. The Nittany Lions trimmed the lead to two (73-70) but Harrison hit two clutch free-throws with four seconds remaining to clinch the championship victory.
Harrison earned tournament MVP honors for his performance over the three day tournament, averaging 19.3 points per game and eight rebounds per game.
This will be the first NCAA championship appearance by any Wells College team in the school's history and is just the second North Eastern Athletic Conference Championship earned by Wells, with the men's swimming team earning the only other championship back in the 2009-2010 season.
The NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Committee will make its at-large selection and release the complete bracket and schedule for the 2011 NCAA Championship on Monday, February 28. The announcement will be presented via webcast on www.NCAA.com beginning at Noon Eastern time Monday. The bracket will also be posted on www.NCAA.com at approximately 12:30 p.m.