New Wilmington, PA – Coming into Wednesday night’s match-up between Geneva and Westminster, the Golden Tornadoes had won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the two rivals. Although Westminster still held a decisive advantage in the all-time series, it has been the Golden Tornadoes that have seen the better of the play in recent years. Geneva cruised into New Wilmington with a 17-6 overall record to face a struggling Titans club sitting at 5-18. As the story goes, that’s why they play the games. Despite a decisive advantage on paper, Westminster rallied from 14 points down at the half to shock Geneva 72-69. The loss dropped the Golden Tornadoes to 17-7 overall and dealt them a significant blow in the NCCAA play-off picture.
When the two teams retired to their respective locker rooms following the first half, it seemed quite evident that Geneva would once again get the best of its long time rival. The Golden Tornadoes finished the first half on a 16-3 run including the final ten points to hold a comfortable 41-28 lead. Midway through the second stanza, Geneva still led the game by nine points before Westminster began making a serious run at the Golden Tornadoes. The Titans clawed all the way back into the game and tied the score at 62 with 3:27 left in the second half. Westminster took its first lead of the second half at the 1:15 mark on a lay-up from Doug Smith. The Golden Tornadoes missed four three-point field goals in the final two minutes and were never able to overcome the deficit. “We didn’t make shots and we lost our defensive principles,” said head coach Jeff Santarsiero. “This is a huge disappointment on so many levels. We blew a 14 point lead in a game that we had control of at halftime and that is just not acceptable.”
Richard Colick scored 20 points to lead Geneva’s offense with Dave Phillips and Brandon Sopko each chipping in with 12 points apiece. The Golden Tornadoes shot just 29% from three point range and were held to only ten second half field goals. Meanwhile, the Titans shot 60% from the field in the final 20 minutes as they outscored Geneva 44-28 in the second half. “This one is going to sting for a long time,” said Santarsiero. “When you put yourself in a position to win a game on the road and don’t close out the deal it is not a good feeling. We have too many veterans on this team to allow that type of thing to happen this late in the season.”
The Golden Tornadoes will look to close out the regular season on a high note when they welcome Waynesburg to Metheny Fieldhouse on Saturday night at 7:30 pm. As it stands now, Geneva is the number two seed in the NCCAA East region. It may receive a home game in the regional semi-finals, but tonight’s loss may be costly in terms of having to travel for the regional championship.
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).