NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. (Feb. 18) – Tom Kromka recorded his fifth double-double of the season as the Saint Vincent men's basketball team outlasted Westminster 73-66 and clinch the top seed in the upcoming Presidents' Athletic Conference Tournament.
Kromka tallied 15 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks in the victory, which improved Saint Vincent to 15-3 in PAC play and 19-6 overall. The Titans dropped to 11-7 in league play and 15-10 overall, falling to the #4 seed in the PAC Tournament.
Westminster opened the scoring with four straight successful free throws, before Austin Dedert used a layup to give the Bearcats their first field goal of the game at the 17:50 mark.
Jason Capco split a pair of free throws before Coy Patterson Jr. drained a two-point basket to give SVC an early 5-4 advantage with 16:50 left in the half. A little later, SVC split a pair of free throws at the line to tie the game at 9-9.
That is when Westminster started a brief 7-2 scoring run, capped by a three-pointer, to take a 16-11 lead at the 9:44 mark.
After a three-point play by Kromka brought SVC back within two (16-14), the Titans knocked down another three to push the lead back to five with just under 9 minutes left in the half.
The Bearcats regained the lead with an 8-2 run of their own, capped by a defensive block from senior Austin Ford and a transition basket from junior Matt D'Amico, making it 22-21 Bearcats at the 5:20 mark.
The teams would exchange scores throughout the rest of the first half, with neither team leading by more than three points. A layup by freshman Collin Neville with 9 seconds left in the first half put the Bearcats up 31-30 after 20 minutes.
Saint Vincent recovered from a slow start to shoot 47.8 percent from the field in the first half. Westminster shot just 30 percent but knocked down 5-of-12 three-point attempts. Kromka led a balanced attacked with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks at halftime.
Kromka scored the first four points of the second half for SVC, the second of which was a one-handed dunk to tie the game at 35-35. Westminster countered with a baseline jumper and a thunderous dunk and free throw, taking a 40-35 lead at the 15:45 mark.
The Bearcats would use a 6-2 run, with layups from Kromka, Ford and D'Amico to close within one (42-41).
After Westminster would make back-to-back baskets to go up 46-41, Saint Vincent used a 9-0 run to surge into the lead at 50-46. Mike Simmons capped the run with a three from the corner with 10:42 left.
Simmons would counter a Westminster basket with another three-pointer, making it a 53-48 lead at the 9:35 mark. The Titans would split free throws to cut the deficit to four points but the Bearcats added on a 7-0 run to make the lead 60-49 with 6:29 left.
The Bearcats would hold at least an eight-point lead until Westminster got back-to-back layups, trimming the deficit to 65-59 with 2:07 to play. A three by the Titans brought them within four (68-64) with less than a minute left but could get no closer.
Coy Patterson added 13 points and 6 rebounds. D'Amico tallied 13 points and 3 assists. Saint Vincent shot 56.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the three-point line (4-of-8). The host Titans only shot 34.3 percent on field goals, including 29 percent on threes.
Saint Vincent will be the #1 seed, hosting either Chatham or Geneva in the PAC Tournament Quarterfinals on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Carey Center. The opponent will be known late Saturday night.