Tag Archive | "Pioneers"

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Duke tops Denver, reaches NCAA Championship Game again

Posted on 24 May 2014 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE — (AP) Attackman Kyle Keenan scored four goals, Jordan Wolf had three goals and two assists, and top-seeded Duke defeated No. 5 Denver 15-12 in the NCAA semifinals Saturday.

Deemer Class added three goals for Duke (16-3), which will seek its second consecutive national championship and third overall Monday against the winner of the second semifinal between Maryland and Notre Dame.

Attackman Wesley Berg scored five goals for Denver (16-3), which has lost all three of its semifinal appearances. Jack Bobzien added three goals for the Pioneers.

Denver scored three straight goals to pull within 11-10 with 13:46 left. The two teams then traded scores before Duke reeled off three goals in a row to hold off the comeback attempt.

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Loyola drops ECAC showdown to Denver in OT

Posted on 13 April 2013 by WNST Staff

Denver Scores 16 Seconds Into Overtime To Edge Men’s Lacrosse

BALTIMORE – Cameron Flint picked up a ground ball off the opening faceoff of overtime, ran the length of the field and scored 16 seconds into overtime to lift visiting University of Denver to a 13-12 victory over Loyola University Maryland in front of 3,285 at Ridley Athletic Complex in an ECAC Lacrosse League game.

The Greyhounds (9-3 overall, 5-1 ECAC) trailed by as many as five goals twice during the game, at halftime when Denver’s Eric Law scored with five seconds to go in the second quarter, and late in the third quarter when Sean Cannizzaro tallied an unassisted goal at 4:01.

Canizzaro’s goal from just in front of the crease pushed the Pioneers’ lead to 9-4, but Loyola reeled off three goals in the quarter’s final three minutes to pull within a pair, 9-7.

Zach Herreweyers started the run when Pat Laconi came into the box on transition and sent a pass to goal-line extended on the right side where Herreweyers got to the crease and used a shot-fake to score at 3:54.

Sean O’Sullivan, who tied Mike Sawyer and Flint for game-high honors with four goals, scored his second extra-man goal of the game at 1:57 off a Sawyer assist.

After Jack Runkel made a save for Loyola and sent an over-the-top outlet pass to Josh Hawkins, the defensive midfielder scored on an overhand seven-yard try to make it 9-7 Denver with 16 ticks left in the third.

The Pioneers (10-2, 5-0), however, scored the first two of the final period in regulation as Eric Adamson tallied one by rolling off a check and shooting form the left side 1:58 into the quarter. Gordie Koerber then scored 58 seconds later off a Garrett Holst assist in transition, and Denver’s lead was back to four, 11-7.

O’Sullivan recorded his third of the game at 10:50, scoring after Nikko Pontrello reversed the ball from right-to-left, creating space for O’Sullivan.

Denver took possession after the faceoff following O’Sullivan’s goal – the Pioneers won 18-of-28 restarts – but Reid Acton caused a turnover and picked up the ground ball for Loyola. He got an outlet pass to Hawkins who again cleared it himself, scoring with another overhand shot at 9:20.

Adamson momentarily stopped the Loyola run for the Pioneers, scoring his second of the quarter with 8:40 remaining to make it 12-9 Denver.

Sawyer restarted the rally for Loyola, tallying a pair within 26 seconds. His first was a behind-the-head highlight reel shot from the right side of the crease after Justin Ward threaded a pass in front of the crease to Sawyer’s stick.

His second came unassisted as he ran from right to left, burying the shot at 6:03 to draw the Greyhounds within a goal, 12-11.

O’Sullivan tied it with his career-high tying fourth of the game at 2:11, whipping a sidearm show from 12 yards out after a Pontrello pass. It marked the game’s first tie since Eric Law gave the Pioneers a 2-1 lead at 11:02 of the first quarter.

Denver had an offensive possession in the final minutes thwarted when Scott Ratliff caused a turnover by Adamson and picked up the ground ball. Loyola cleared it to its offensive end, but a Sawyer shot sailed wide and the teams headed to overtime.

The Pioneers used a 10-3 advantage in faceoff wins in the first half to build its five-goal halftime advantage, scoring four unanswered in the first quarter after Sawyer tallied the game’s first score just 32 seconds in.

Sawyer finished with a season-high six points on four goals and two assists. O’Sullivan scored four time, and Hawkins tallied two, while Herreweyers and Davis Butts each added goals for the Greyhounds. Pontrello, Sawyer and Justin Ward each had two assists, and Laconi added another.

Ratliff posted four ground balls and three caused turnovers, and Jack Runkel made 13 saves on defense for the Greyhounds.

The loss snapped a 13-game ECAC winning streak for the Greyhounds, dating back to March 2011.

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Loyola faces ECAC showdown with Denver Saturday

Posted on 12 April 2013 by WNST Staff

Opponent Denver Pioneers
Date Saturday, April 13, 2013
Time 1:00 p.m.
Location Baltimore, Md. | Ridley Athletic Complex
TV | Radio Hounds Unleashed
Series Record Loyola leads, 3-2
Last Meeting Loyola 10, Denver 9 – May 19, 2012, in Annapolis, Md.

Game Data

Loyola University Maryland plays its final regular-season home game of the 2013 season on Saturday, April 13, when it host the University of Denver at Ridley Athletic Complex.

Faceoff is slated for 1 o’clock. The Greyhounds will celebrate Senior Day, beginning at approximately 12:40 p.m. and will honor their 14 players who will take the field at Ridley for the final time in regular-season action: Reid Acton, Michael Bonitatibus, Davis Butts, Phil Dobson, Patrick Fanshaw, Tyler Foley, Will Fredericks, T.J. Harris, Josh Hawkins, Harry Kutner, Chris Layne, Sean O’Sullivan, Scott Ratliff, and Mike Sawyer.


Series History

Loyola and Denver will meet for the sixth time in series history when the teams take the field on Saturday. The Greyhounds hold a 3-2 lead in the all-time series with all three of those victories coming last season.

The Greyhounds won all three games last year, but by just five combined goals.

Loyola used a 5-1 run to close the game, overcoming an 8-7 third-quarter deficit on April 14, 2012, in Denver to beat the Pioneers, 12-9, in last year’s regular-season meeting.

The teams met again with Loyola as the No. 1 seed, and Denver the fourth, in the ECAC Semifinals on May 2, again in Denver. Loyola opened up a 13-6 lead with 13:14 left in regulation before the Pioneers scored seven-straight to tie the game at 13-13 with 3:30 remaining on the clock. Scott Ratliff picked up the ground ball to start overtime, and he scored eight seconds later, lifting Loyola to the ECAC title game.

Last year’s final meeting came at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Greyhounds built a 10-6 lead early in the fourth quarter and held off a Pioneers’ charge to win 10-9 and advance to the NCAA Semifinals. Eric Lusby had five goals and two assists in the win.


In The Polls

Loyola remained at No. 5 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll this week while checking in at No. 6 in the USILA Coaches rankings.

Denver enters Saturday’s game third in the media version, fourth in the coaches’.


Last Time Out

Loyola’s defensive midfield combined for six goals and an assist, as the Greyhounds raced out to a 6-2 first-quarter lead and finished with a 13-7 victory on Saturday over Fairfield University.

The Stags scored the game’s first goal 4:28 in, but Kevin Ryan scored on an extra-man possession at 8:44, and nine seconds later, Scott Ratliff ripped a 12-yard shot after a face-off win, and Loyola was in front for good.

Ratliff finished with four goals, and Josh Hawkins added two from the defensive midfield, while their running mate Pat Laconi assisted on a Ratliff goal. Justin Ward added two goals and two assists, and Mike Sawyer scored twice.

Ryan and Ratliff’s goals were the first two of a 5-0 run that the Greyhounds extended to 7-1 in the second quarter.


Ratliff Sets Record

Scott Ratliff did something believed to be a first in the modern era of college lacrosse  (circa 1971) on Saturday in the Greyhounds’ win over visiting Fairfield. The senior long-stick midfielder scored four goals, becoming the first player with a pole to do so.

Ratliff scored once off a Loyola faceoff win, a second time on a give-and-go in transition with Pat Laconi and twice more off set plays in settled offense with feeds from Justin Ward and Nikko Pontrello.

In recent years, at least two long-sticks, Duke’s C.J. Costabile and Bryant’s Mason Poli, have recorded hat tricks.


Hawkins, Ratliff Earn ECAC Honors

After the standout performance by the Loyola defensive midfield, short-stick Josh Hawkins and long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff were named the ECAC Specialist and Co-Defensvie Players of the Week, respectively on Monday.

Ratliff scored four goals, had four caused turnovers and three ground balls, while Hawkins posted two goals, two ground balls and a caused turnover.

The award is the first of Hawkins’ career, while Ratliff earned his sixth (four defensive, two specialist).

During the last six weeks, Jack Runkel, Scott Ratliff (twice), Joe Fletcher (twice) and Reid Acton have been named the week’s top defender. Also, during that stretch, Justin Ward and Zach Herreweyers were named Offensive Players of the Week.


Defensively Speaking

Loyola has allowed just 22 goals over its last four games, an average of 5.5. In the first two games, at Georgetown and Michigan, the Greyhounds gave up just one goal before halftime, and they then allowed only one after the break at Ohio State.

In the four games, Loyola’s opponents have made just 19.8-percent of their shots, converting on 22-of-111 attempts.

The Greyhounds have forced 67 turnovers in the games, as Georgetown committed 20, Michigan had 18, Ohio State, 16 and Fairfield, 13. Of those 67 turnovers, Loyola was credited with 44 caused turnovers.

The 17 caused at Georgetown were the most this season by Loyola and the most by a Greyhounds’ team since they posted 19 in back-to-back games against St. John’s and Massachusetts in March 2009.

Entering the game against Fairfield, Loyola is fifth in Division I with 10.0 caused turnovers per game. Four players – Scott Ratliff (14th, 2.09), Pat Laconi (36th, 1.55), Joe Fletcher (65th, 1.27) and Reid Acton (70th, 1.2) – are ranked among the nation’s top 70 in caused turnovers per game.


CLASSy Senior Candidate

Earlier this week, Scott Ratliff was named one of 10 finalists for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, an honor given yearly to a NCAA Division I senior who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition

Ratliff has continued his high production on defense, transition and offense that helped him earn USILA All-America Third Team and ECAC Defensive Player of the Year honors a year ago when he led the team last year in ground balls (88) and caused turnovers (37), was fifth in goals (12) and seventh in assists (7).

He had one of his stat-sheet filling games against Air Force, scoring a goal and assisting on another while picking up five ground balls and causing three turnovers, and he turned in another with a goal, four ground balls and two caused turnovers while going 4-of-4 on faceoffs against Georgetown. Ratliff came one shy of his career-high with eight ground balls at Michigan.

His career totals now stand at 27 goals and 13 assists, and his 40 career points are second-most among active long-poles to Bryant’s Mason Poli. Last year, he set the school’s single-season long-pole scoring record with 12 goals and seven assists, eclipsing the previous high of 16 points on 11 goals and five assists set in 1995 by current Loyola assistant coach Matt Dwan.

Additionally, Ratliff now stands 10th in school Division I history in career ground balls (193) and second in caused turnovers (82). His caused turnovers are eight shy of tying the school record set in 2008 by P.T. Ricci.


Defensive Midfield Production

Loyola’s defensive midfield had a productive game against Fairfield, finishing the outing with six goals, an assists, six caused turnovers and six ground balls.

This season, long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff has posted 11 goals and three assists, good for fifth on the team with 14 points, while short-stick Pat Laconi has four goals and five points, and fellow short-stick Josh Hawkins has five goals and an assist.


Another Multi-Point Venture For Ward

With two goals and two assists against Fairfield, Justin Ward had his 11th multi-point effort in as many games this season. He has now tallied at least two points in all 11 games this season, and he has three or more in eight of those outings..

In the Georgetown game, he became the 10th player in the program’s Division I history (since 1982) to log 50 or more assists in his career. With 56 career assists, Ward now stands ninth in school Division I history, three shy of Pat Lamon’s 59 in eighth place.

Ward put up his second game with seven or more points on March 16 against Air Force, logging seven with two goals and five assists in the win over the Falcons. His five assists tied his career-high, set twice in 2012 against Towson and Fairfield.

On February 26, against UMBC, as the junior finished with seven goals and three assists for 10 points. His goal and point outputs were career-highs. He became the first player to score at least seven goals in a game since Gavin Prout tallied eight in a 19-11 win at Hobart on April 28, 2001.

Ward’s 10-point effort was the first 10-point game for a Greyhound since Tim Goettelmann tallied the same amount in a 19-9 win on March 25, 2000, against Fairfield. In that game, Goettelmann scored four goals and had six assists. Later that season, he would score seven goals on May 16 in the NCAA First Round against Notre Dame.

Through 10 games this year, Ward leads the team with 21 goals and 22 assists for 43 points.


Pontrello Keeps Tallying Points

Nikko Pontrello notched his third hat trick of the season on March 30 at Ohio State, scoring a game-high three against the Buckeyes. He also had three-goal outings against UMBC and Air Force earlier this year.

In his first season as a starter, Pontrello has scored 13 goals while assisting on 14 for 27 points, second most on the team. As a freshman in 2012, he scored four goals and assisted on six.

He posted his second six-point game this season March 16 against Air Force, scoring a career-high four goals to go with two assists. He scored in the first quarter, tallied a pair during Loyola’s 4-0 third-quarter run and added his fourth in the final frame. Earlier this year against UMBC, Pontrello posted three goals and three assists for six points against the Retrievers.


Fletcher Turns Up ‘D’

Joe Fletcher earned ECAC Defensive Player of the Week honors on March 18 after picking up three ground balls and causing a turnover against Air Force. More impressive was the defense Fletcher played on Air Force’s offensive quarterback, preseason All-American Keith Dryer.

Dryer entered the game with four goals and a team-leading 10 assists, but Fletcher held him without a point.

This season, Fletcher, who was a Preseason All-America First Team honoree, has 37 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers.


Offensive Addition

Freshman Zach Herreweyers made his first career start on March 16 against Air Force on attack for the Greyhounds, and he made his debut to the opening 10 an impressive one.

Herreweyers scored his first collegiate goal with 12.3 seconds left in the first quarter, and he finished with a hat trick, tallying goals for Loyola in the third and fourth quarters, as well. He also picked up three ground balls.

He followed that game with a four-goal outing Wednesday at Georgetown, a hat trick at Michigan and a goal and an assist at Ohio State.

The freshman from London, Ontario, made his collegiate debut against Duke on March 8. In five games played, he is tied for fourth on the team with 11 goals.

Herreweyers became the first Loyola freshman to score three times in a game since current senior Patrick Fanshaw scored five goals and assisted on another on March 20, 2010, also against Air Force.


Eighth To 100

With his goal at 9:25 in the third quarter against UMBC, Mike Sawyer became the eighth player in Loyola men’s lacrosse history to score 100 in his career, the seventh in the program’s Division I history.

Sawyer joined a list that includes Gary Hanley (151), Pat Lamon (133), Gewas Schindler (120), Tim O’Shea (115), Kevin Beach (114), John Carroll (112) and Chris Colbeck (108).


Layne Keeps Tallying Points

Chris Layne had his fifth multi-point game of the season against Ohio State, recorda goal and two assists. He has scored at least one point in all 10 of the Greyhounds’ games this year.

Through 10 games this season, Layne has scored 12 goals and has eight assists.

Last season, he had a total of five multi-point games while finishing with 11 goals and 14 assists. With his two goals against Delaware, Maryland and UMBC, Layne has more than doubled his multi-goal games during his time at Loyola to five. He also had one as a sophomore in 2010 for North Carolina.


Helmet Stickers

Loyola players are wearing three stickers on their helmets this season to remember those who have passed away. The stickers are in memory of Adam Pomper, a member of the 2012 team who passed away on June 12, 2012, Mandy O’Sullivan, mother of current players Sean and Ryan O’Sullivan who died in March 2012 from pancreatic cancer, and the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting in December 2012 where Loyola put on a youth lacrosse clinic in January.


Well-Represented In MLL Draft

Five members of the Loyola men’s lacrosse team were selected in the top 26 of the January 11 Major League Lacrosse draft. The Greyhounds tied Virginia for the most draft picks in the selection process.

Josh Hawkins and Mike Sawyer were both taken in the first round, going fifth and eighth overall to the Hamilton Nationals and Charlotte Hounds, respectively.

Scott Ratliff was the first pick of the second round, going ninth to the Boston Cannons, and Davis Butts was taken early in the third round, 19th overall to the Denver Outlaws. Joining Hawkins in Hamilton will be Reid Acton, the team’s fourth round pick, 26th overall.

Sawyer will be joined in Charlotte by former teammate Eric Lusby who was the top waiver pick after the NCAA season ended in early June. After missing the majority of the MLL season with an injury, the NCAA Championships Most Outstanding Player made his MLL debut on July 28 at Long Island and scored a goal. He then tallied three goals  in an August 11 win over Rochester.


Preseason Accolades

Six Loyola players were named to the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook Preseason All-America teams: defender Joe Fletcher and short-stick midfielder Josh Hawkins (first team); attackman Mike Sawyer and long-stick midfielder Scott Ratliff (second); midfielder Davis Butts (third); and, defender Reid Acton (honorable mention).

All six earned All-America honors last season with Sawyer earned Second Team honors and Ratliff was named to the Third Team. Acton, Butts, Fletcher and Acton earned Honorable Mention along with graduate student Eric Lusby.

In his first year as a starter, Fletcher was named to the NCAA and ECAC Championships All-Tournament Teams and earned a reputation as one of the top defenders in the nation. In 19 games as a sophomore, Fletcher caused 26 turnovers, second most on the team, and had 41 ground balls.

Hawkins has continued to be one of the top defensive midfielders in the nation and garnered considerable respect nationally for his play during the NCAA Championships. He earned NCAA All-Tournament honors and helped the Greyhounds limit Notre Dame and Maryland to a combined eight goals on Championships weekend. In addition to his six goals and two assists in 15 games last year, Hawkins was second on the team with 63 ground balls.

Sawyer was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s top player last season when he scored 52 goals and assisted on 10 more and was named the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player. During the regular-season, he led the ECAC in goals and goals per game while earning All-ECAC First Team honors. He became the second player to score 50 or more goals in a season and was joined by a third on last year’s team.

Ratliff continued to be one of the top long-stick midfielders in the nation and set a Loyola scoring record for the position last year. He finished with 12 goals and seven assists, exceeding current Loyola Assistant Coach Matt Dwan’s previous record for a long-stick midfielder set in 1995. In addition to his scoring, he tallied 88 ground balls and 37 caused turnovers while earning ECAC Defensive Player of the Year, ECAC Championships Most Valuable Player, NCAA All-Tournament Team and team co-defenisve player of the year honors.

Butts was a first-line midfielder for the Greyhounds for the second year in a row. He excelled as a dodger and finisher and ranked fourth on the team in points (35) and third in goals scored (21). A versatile player, Butts also saw plenty of action on the wings of faceoffs and in the defensive midfield where he picked up 40 ground balls.

Acton will enter 2013 having started on the Greyhounds’ defense each of the last three years. He finished the 2012 season with 44 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers, while helping Loyola record a 7.21 goals allowed per game average, the fifth-best mark in Division I. The Greyhounds set a pair of defensive records during Championship Weekend, holding Notre Dame and Maryland to a combined eight goals in the two games and allowing the Terrapins just three in the title match.


Toomey Receives Morris Touchstone Award

Loyola Head Coach Charley Toomey was named the ECAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his seven-year career, and in December, he received the coaches association’s Morris Touchstone Award as the national coach of the year.

The Greyhounds became the second team in USILA Coaches Poll history to start a season unranked and ascend to the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The only other team was Duke in 2007 – a year after the Blue Devils had their season suspended in March – which accomplished the feat after being unranked in the first poll, moving to second in the next version and first in the third. Duke was knocked from its perch as No. 1 that season when it lost to the Greyhounds at the First Four in San Diego.

The win over Georgetown this was the 70th victory of his coaching career, becoming the second coach in Loyola history to win 70 or more, joining – Dave Cottle (181-70, 1983-2001).


Big Runs

Last season, runs of three-plus goals were critical in the Greyhounds success, as they had runs of 3-0 or better in all 19 games. In all, Loyola scored three or more in a row on 37 occasions last year.

The Greyhounds have opened the 2013 season in similar fashion as they scored three-straight in the second quarter to take a 4-2 lead against Delaware after trailing, 2-1. They then had two runs of 3-0 or better at Towson.

Against UMBC, Loyola had a 3-0 first-half run before putting together a 10-0 stretch in the third and fourth quarters. The Greyhounds then had a 4-0 run that spanned both halves to help beat Bellarmine, and they runs of 3-0 and 4-0 to beat Air Force.

In the Georgetown game, Loyola had its longest run of the year, scoring eight straight.

At Ohio State, the Greyhounds went on a 6-0 run that spanned the final three quarters to take control of the game. A 5-0 first-quarter run spurred the win over Fairfield.


Second-Half Success

Last season, the Greyhounds outscored opponents 66-22 in the third quarters of games, and 123-63 overall in the second half (including overtime). The second-half scoring continued a trend from 2011 when Loyola outscored opponents, 69-52, after halftime (including two overtime goals), and 77-56.

This year, Loyola is outscoring opponents 43-20 in the third quarter and 64-45 overall after halftime.

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Maryland hosts Denver in NIT second round Thursday night

Posted on 20 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Maryland (23-12, 8-10 ACC) vs. Denver  (22-9, 16-2 WAC)


National Invitation Tournament – Second Round

Thursday, March 21, 2013 • 7 p.m. ET

Game #36 • Home Game #21 • College Park, Md. • Comcast Center

TV: ESPNU – Mike Patrick (Play-by-Play) & LaPhonso Ellis (Analyst)

Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network – Johnny Holliday (Play-by-Play), Chris Knoche (Analyst) & Walt Williams (Sidelines)



• Maryland continues play in the National Invitation Tournament as it plays host to the University of Denver Thursday at 7 p.m. in Comcast Center in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Terrapins advanced to the second round of the NIT with an 86-70 win over Niagara Tuesday night.

• The quick turnaround has Maryland playing its fifth game in eight days. Despite the busy stretch, the Terrapins have played some of their best basketball as of late – over the last four games, Maryland is averaging 80 points per game, shooting .479 from the field, .408 from 3-point range and .798 from the free-throw line.

• Dez Wells and Nick Faust have increased their scoring recently, with Wells averaging 18.3 points per game over the last eight games and Faust averaging 13.3 over the last nine. In that eight-game stretch, Wells is shooting .550 (55-100) from the field and .438 (7-16) from 3-point range. Faust has also shot it well, having hit .506 (41-81) from the field and .450 (18-40) from 3PT.

• Wells led Maryland to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament last weekend, averaging 22.0 points per game en route to first team All-Tournament honors. The sophomore had a career-high 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the 83-74 quarterfinal win over No. 2 Duke, making all 10 of his free throw attempts while adding six rebounds and three assists.

• In the win over Niagara, Maryland dominated the second half after going into the locker room tied at 35. Faust, Seth Allen and Logan Aronhalt each had 15 points, while Wells added 12 and Charles Mitchell had 10. That marked the third time in the last four games that five Terrapins scored in double figures. Aronhalt scored all 15 of his points on 3-pointers (5-7), and Faust recorded his first career double-double by grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his 15 points.

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Maryland to face Denver next in NIT

Posted on 20 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Maryland, Denver will tip-off at 7 p.m. Thursday in Comcast Center in NIT 2nd round game

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland men’s basketball team will play a second-round NIT game against the University of Denver on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Comcast Center.


The Terrapins advanced to the second round with an 86-70 win over Niagara on Tuesday, while Denver defeated Ohio 61-57. Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPNU.


Tickets for the game cost $25 to the general public and include parking. They can be purchased by calling the Terrapin ticket office at 1-800-IM-A-TERP.

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Morgan opens season Saturday against Sacred Heart

Posted on 31 August 2012 by WNST Staff

The Bears (0-0, 0-0) will host Sacred Heart in the season opener on Saturday (Sept. 1) at Hughes Stadium. The Pioneers enter the 2012 season under the leadership of interim head coach Mark Nofri. The Pioneers completed the 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record and a 3-6 mark in the Northeast Conference.  Morgan State posted a 5-6 record last season and was 4-4 in MEAC play. Donald Hill-Eley, ranked third among winning coaches at MSU, enters his second decade as head coach of the Bears.  Game time at Hughes Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.

• The Bears and Pioneers will meet for the first time in history.

• The Bears have lost three of their last four season openers, including five of its last seven.
• MSU is 4-6 under head coach Donald Hill-Eley in season-openers.
• The Bears last season opener victory was during a 14-7 win against Bowie State on Sept. 4, 2010 at Hughes Stadium.

• Morgan State will enter the 2012 season with plenty of veterans … the Bears’ roster includes 22 seniors.
•  Seth Higgins returns as the Bears starting QB … He completed 97-of-186 passes for 1,116 yards, including 9 TDs as a true freshman.
• Morgan State returns three of its top rushers from last season: Travis Davidson (792 yards), Tracy Martin (317 yards) and Brian Mann (101 yards).
• Travis Davidson had a 49-yard rushing touchdown and led the Bears with 74 yards on seven carries against Norfolk State.
•  MSU wideout Tyrone Hendrix collected a season-high 371 yards on 19 catches, including three touchdowns in 2011.
•  Kenneth Ridley emerged as a shutdown cornerback last season and ranked T-No. 2 in the MEAC with four interceptions.
•  LB Allen Stephens posted a team-high 80 tackles to go along with 7.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
•  DE Richard Ndubueze was selected to the 2012 Preseason All-MEAC First Team.

• The Pioneers finished the 2011 season with a 5-6 overall record and went 3-5 in the Northeastern Conference.
• The Pioneers played with a lot of question marks at the quarterback position last season, but will enter the 2012 season with Tim Little as the unquestionable starter. Little (6-4, 215, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) threw for 2,200 yards while completing 57.9% (206-356) of his passes. Little helped lead the NEC’s top-passing offense (237.8 ypg).
• Sacred Heart has led the NEC in throwing the ball for the last three-straight seasons.
• Defensively, the Pioneers are led by Niko Sierra. Sierra is a two-year starter at outside linebacker and finished with 57 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and led the Pioneers with four interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a sack last season.

One of our favorite local streetwear brands, UNIVERSITY OF TASTE, has stepped up to the plate to partner with us to help start the 2012 Morgan State football season off right. On this Saturday’s football season-opener against Sacred Heart, we’ll be giving away brand spankin’ new t-shirts to the first 200, courtesy of UNIVERSITY OF TASTE.

After Saturday’s contest the Bears’ next three games will be on the road. MSU will travel to face Buffalo on Saturday, Sept. 8th, followed by road matchups at Akron (Sept. 15) and North Carolina A&T (Sept. 27).

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