DOYLESTOWN (PA) – FDU-Florham clinched its first Freedom Conference playoff berth in six years as the Devils pulled a 61-60 victory over host Delaware Valley College.
The Devils, who finished last in the Freedom, grabbed the fourth and final Freedom tournament berth as they are 13-12 overall and 8-6 in league action. The defending champion Aggies ended their 2011-12 season with a 7-18 overall mark, 4-10 in the Freedom.
Delaware Valley scored four straight points on a jumper by Nathan Bollinger and two free throws by Cam Lee to take a 58-53 lead with 4:41 remaining. FDU-Florham cut into its deficit with 2:55 remaining as Derek Hall hit a putback. Thirty-one seconds later, Adam Katz made it a one-point contest with a pair of free throws.
The game entered the final minute and Hall was sent to the foul line after securing an offensive rebound. He swished both attempts for a 59-58 FDU-Florham lead. Delaware Valley came down the court and Bollinger was fouled with 32 ticks remaining. The sophomore hit both free throws to put the Aggies back on top by one.
On the Devils' possession, Will Green was fouled with 23 seconds left and he sank two for a 61-60 lead. After a timeout, the Aggies came down with a chance to win it. They called another timeout with 9.7 seconds to go and got the ball into their hands of their leading scorer, Bollinger. He drove hard to the basket and the officials ruled that he was stripped of the ball by Andrew Stress as he was going up for a shot. Trevor Sykes kept the ball from going out of bounds and the clock ran out as the Devils celebrated the win and a conference playoff spot.
Delaware Valley came out flying and took a 19-8 lead halfway through the first stanza. They built the lead to 12 two minutes later, but the Devils fought back and pulled to within five, 31-26, at the intermission. The Aggies led despite not making a single trip to the foul line in the half (FDU-Florham was just 2-for-2 from the line as only a total of seven fouls were called.
The Devils opened the second stanza with a 16-5 spurt – six by Green - to take a 42-36 advantage. They were still up five with 12:06 to go when Delaware Valley answered with seven straight, all by Bollinger, for a two-point lead. They built it to five before the hectic end and the FDU-Florham win.
Bollinger finished with 14 points and five assists while Daulton Derr added 13 points. Cam Lee finished with 10 points and both he and Jonathan Jernigan had a strong defensive effort on Katz. Jeremy Beckett notched eight points, 10 boards and five blocks.
Katz, who scored a combined 58 points in the Devils' last two games, was just 2-for-11 from the field. He hit all six of his free throw attempts to finish with 11 points. Green had 18 points and 11 boards while Hall ended the afternoon with 11 points.