Beaver Falls, PA - Geneva College men′s basketball coach Jeff Santarsiero and his staff gathered around a laptop computer on Saturday afternoon to watch the American Mideast Conference tournament semi-finals between Roberts Wesleyan and Cedarville. For those two hours, Geneva College became the biggest Roberts Wesleyan fans in the country. A Raiders victory would have sent the Golden Tornadoes directly into the NCCAA national tournament because it would have qualified them for the NAIA dance. As it turned out, Roberts Wesleyan lost to Cedarville by a bucket thus setting the stage for the NCCAA East regional championship this coming Thursday night in Rochester, NY.
Geneva advanced to the championship game by virtue of its 98-89 victory over Mt. Vernon Nazarene University last Wednesday night. The Golden Tornadoes improved to 18-8 on the season and has its sights set on a second consecutive trip to the NCCAA national tournament. "Roberts Wesleyan is big and athletic," said Santarsiero. "This will be our most difficult challenge of the season. It′s a tough place to play against a very good team. If we win on Thursday, we would have earned our way to the national tournament."
Roberts Wesleyan had won ten consecutive games heading into the match-up with Cedarville. With 19 victories of its own on the season, the Raiders are certainly more than a formidable opponent. "This is a scholarship program from the NAIA. We are familiar with them since we competed in the same conference for years but that doesn′t give us any added advantage. This is going to be a very difficult assignment."
Roberts Wesleyan visited Geneva last year in the regional semi-finals when the Golden Tornadoes ended the Raiders season by the score of 71-63. In 27 previous meetings, Geneva holds a 16-11 advantage in the all-time series. "They are going to be waiting for us," said Santarsiero. "I′m sure they remember the game from last year and they are coming off a very tough loss in their conference tournament. This is what the post-season should be all about."
Should Geneva get past Roberts Wesleyan it will earn an automatic bid to the NCCAA national tournament in Oakland City, IN. The tournament runs from March 17-19.
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).