In theory, it was a non-call in the closing seconds of Bloomsburg’s controversial 72-71 win over Millersville on Saturday that set the stage for the pairings in the East bracket of the PSAC men’s basketball tournament.
In reality, it was a last-second three-pointer at a gym 241 miles – at least according to Google Maps – to the southwest of Nelson Field House seven weeks ago that proved to be the season-changer for the top three teams in the East.
While it’s easy to look at Bloomsburg hacking Millersville’s Larry Grant and not being called for a foul as the reason West Chester has to make the three-hour trudge to Nelson Field House for their quarterfinal showdown tonight, the Golden Rams had a chance to make that blown call moot at California (Pa.) University’s Convocation Center on Jan. 7.
The Golden Rams held a 12 point halftime lead before Cal battled back to take their first – and only – lead with 17.2 seconds left on a Keith Lowe three-pointer. The Vulcans won the game 61-59. Who would’ve predicted seven weeks after that game, the three-pointer would prove to affect the PSAC East seeding?
While a Vulcans loss in that Jan. 7 would not have affected their standing in the PSAC West – Cal will still have finished one game ahead of Gannon for the fourth seed in the West – had West Chester won the game at Cal, the Golden Rams would’ve finished with a 15-7 record in the PSAC East – good enough for a three-way tie for the top seed with Bloomsburg and Kutztown.
Through tie-breaker procedures, West Chester would’ve captured the top seed over Kutztown and Bloomsburg, while Kutztown would’ve earned the second seed and Bloomsburg the third seed.
Which means the only playoff double-header would’ve been at Hollinger Field House instead of Nelson Field House. Hence, West Chester would’ve hosted East Stroudsburg while Bloomsburg would’ve had to travel to Kutztown.
Instead, Kutztown, by virtue of their 90-77 win at Shippensburg on Saturday, clinched the top seed, while Bloomsburg took the second seed. The Golden Bears swept the Huskies in order to earn the top seed in the East.
So, the next time someone says that every game in the PSAC doesn’t count, just remember Keith Lowe’s shot and its impact on the PSAC East standings.
PSAC Tournament Bracket
#4 East Stroudsburg (17-11, 13-9 PSAC East) at #1 Kutztown (18-8, 15-7), 7:00 p.m.
Season Series: Jan. 14, @ Koehler Field House, KU 75-61; Feb. 4 @ Keystone Hall, ESU 93-86 (2 OT)
#3 West Chester (17-9, 14-8) at #2 Bloomsburg (17-9, 15-7), 7:30 p.m.
Season Series: Jan. 21 @ Hollinger Field House, WCU 70-64; Feb. 11 @ Nelson Field House, WCU 74-71
#4 California (Pa.) (17-11, 14-8 PSAC West) at #1 Indiana (Pa.) (22-4, 19-3), 7:00 p.m.
Season Series: Jan. 11 @ Ed Fry Arena, IUP 68-58; Feb. 8 @ Cal U Convocation Center, Cal 65-54
#3 Slippery Rock (17-9, 14-8) at #2 Mercyhurst (17-9, 15-7), 7:00 p.m.
Season Series: Jan. 14 @ Mercyhurst, Mercyhurst 64-62; Feb. 4 @ Morrow Field House, SRU 73-71 (OT)