Beaver Falls, PA - It was a frustrating final week of the regular season for Geneva College′s men′s basketball team. With a pair of losses to Westminster and Waynesburg, the Golden Tornadoes must have been saving their energy for the post-season. On Wednesday night, Geneva opened its post-season run with an impressive 98-89 victory over Mt. Vernon Nazarene in the NCCAA East Regional semi-finals. The victory pushed Geneva′s record to 18-8 and helped the Golden Tornadoes move on to the regional finals against Roberts Wesleyan College next Wednesday night in Rochester, NY. The Raiders are competing at Cedarville University this Saturday in the American Mideast Conference tournament. Should Roberts Wesleyan defeat Cedarville on Saturday and gain an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament, Geneva would secure its own automatic bid to the NCCAA dance.
"Our guys came to play tonight," said head coach Jeff Santarsiero. "We knew the caliber of team we were playing and that we would have to give our best effort. Our offense was clicking again and our veterans refused to have their season end."
Geneva took a 38-35 lead heading into halftime despite shooting only 33% from the field. The offense took off in the final 20 minutes shooting 68% (17-25) from the field including 5-9 from three-point range. Bryan Hill connected on four of his seven three-pointers in the second half and finished with 22 points. He was not alone on the scoring line as teammates Richard Colick (25 points) and Lambros Svingos (20 points) each had big nights. Colick finished the game 15-18 from the foul line as the Golden Tornadoes were 29-41 from the foul line for the game. "We had some struggles at the foul line down the stretch but we were able to keep them at arm′s length and never really let the feel as though they could make a serious run. That is a dangerous team and we were very fortunate to get past them."
While Geneva′s threesome in Colick, Hill and Svingos each scored 20+points, it was the play of point guard Brandon Sopko that may have stoled the show. Sopko scored just seven points but added nine rebounds and 14 assists. Not since Nate Conley′s triple-double in 2005, had a Geneva player come so close to matching the feat. "Brandon had a special night," said Santarsiero. "We need that kind of production from him from here on out. When he plays like that, we are a tough team to beat."
Geneva and Roberts Wesleyan met in the NCCAA East Regional semi-finals a year ago with the Golden Tornadoes coming away with an eight-point victory. In 27 career meetings, Geneva holds a 16-11 edge on the Raiders.
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College′s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).