OWINGS MILLS, MD – Clutch free throw shooting lifted the Stevenson University Mustangs to a stunning 75-70 victory over the York College Spartans in Capital Athletic Conference men's basketball action on Wednesday in Owings Mills, MD. With the loss, the Spartans fall to 13-9 overall and 8-5 in the conference. The Mustangs, who are in their last season in the CAC, end their 2011-12 home schedule with a mark of 6-17 overall and 3-11 in the CAC. The Spartans are now in a three-way tie for third place as York, Frostburg State and Wesley are all 8-5 in the league.
The Spartans started the game out with six straight points to forge the early lead. The host Mustangs roared back with a 10-0 spurt, seizing the four-point edge. York answered with another 6-0 spurt and the game would go back-and-forth over the next seven plus minutes as the game featured five ties and six lead changes. The Mustangs started the seize control of the game with a 16-5 run over the final 5:57 of the half. That spurt gave the Mustangs a 10-point lead at the break.
The Mustangs hot first shooting allowed them to score 41 points in the first half. It is just the fourth time this year the Spartans have allowed over 40 points in the first half and they are now 1-3 when that happens. Stevenson shot a blistering 7-for-12 (58.3%) from distance in the half while the Spartans struggled from the floor, converting just 35.1% of their shots from the field.
The second half didn't start well for the Spartans as the Mustangs continued their hot shooting ways in the second stanza. Stevenson started the second 20 minutes with a 10-2 run, pushing their lead to 18 on a Brett Burrier triple from the corner.
The Spartans started climbing back into the game with a 9-1 run fueled by six points from senior Andrew Pawlyk. Burrier halted the run with another three, pushing the lead back to 10 at 55-45. The Spartans were undeterred as they cut the lead back to five on a Mo Oursler bucket with 5:23 left. The Mustangs pushed the lead back into the high single digits before York made another run, getting to within three on an Oursler triple with 2:11 left in the game.
The Mustangs were then clutch at the free throw line as they went 7-of-9 from the stripe in the last two minutes as Stevenson was determined not to let the Spartans pull off another dramatic win on the road.
The shooting numbers told the story for the game, particularly the free throw shooting. The Spartans went 10-for-23 (43.5%) from the stripe while Stevenson was a steady 23-for-32 (71.9%). The Mustangs were also scorching from three as they converted 10-of-20 from distance. Stevenson cooled from the field in the second half as they went 7-for-18 but their 17-for-24 at the stripe made up for that lower percentage.
The Mustangs were paced by Burrier as the guard had a game-high 24 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and a 4-for-5 mark from distance. He also went 8-for-10 from the free throw line in the win. Burrier added a team-high eight rebounds for the Mustangs. Senior Greg Collins celebrated his senior night with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, four steals and a blocked shot in his final appearance at the Stevenson University Gymnasium. Stefon McCray came off the bench and contributed 11 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots for the Mustangs.
York was paced by junior Julian Watson as the guard tallied 15 points and three steals in his 36 minutes of action. Junior Todd Maciejewski played well for York as he recorded his fourth career double-double with 14 points and a career-high tying 12 rebounds. Oursler was the third Spartan in double figures with 13 points and five rebounds. The CAC's leading scorer coming in the game, senior Paul Kouvaris, was limited to just eight points in 27 minutes due to foul trouble in the game. It snaps a streak of 17 straight games in double figures for the Spartans' senior standout.
The Spartans out-rebounded Stevenson 42-36 while they attempted 19 more shots from the floor than the Mustangs. The Spartans committed just eight turnovers in the loss, marking the third time they have been under double digits in miscues this season.
York did hold a significant 40-16 edge in points in the paint and a 15-2 margin in second chance points. However, Stevenson's blistering shooting from the outside counteracted the Spartans' strong play in the paint.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host first-place Mary Washington in a key Capital Athletic Conference contest. Tip time from Wolf Gymnasium is set for 2:00 pm.