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Biagoli has Royals in 1st place

SCRANTON – Paul Biagoli produced a career-high in points Saturday along with scoring the game-winning points at the buzzer.

Biagoli went out Sunday and beat that mark while helping make sure that the University of Scranton men’s basketball team had no need for late-game heroics.

During a weekend when the attention was on the women’s basketball team and coach Mike Strong’s 700th career victory, the men’s team also won twice to move itself into serious title contention in a suddenly wide-open Landmark Conference race.

“We definitely feel better about how we stand after this weekend,” Biagoli said. “It moved us up to a higher ranking in the conference.”

Biagoli, a 6-foot-6 senior forward from Abington Heights, led the way as Scranton improved to 5-2 in the conference and 13-5 overall. The Royals started the weekend tied for third in the Landmark and two games out of first place. They ended it in a four-way tie for first.

Biagoli had 22 points and put back his 10th rebound at the buzzer Saturday when the Royals handed the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy its first conference loss, 66-64. He had 24 points in Sunday’s 83-53 rout of Drew. He was named Landmark Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

“Paul’s a hard worker,” Scranton coach Carl Danzig said. “It’s that old cliché about when you work hard, good things happen.

“Good things are happening for him right now and he’s hitting his shots.”

Biagoli, one of four Scranton players averaging in double figures in points for the season, was 20-for-31 shooting in two weekend games. His most important shot was one of the easiest, but only because Biagoli and his teammates followed instruction.

After Biagoli contested a USMMA shot with about 10 seconds left and the game tied, the Royals got the rebound and ran with it.

“It was a long rebound and there was enough time for (Zach) Ashworth to take it to the basket,” Danzig said. “He took it up between two guys and threw up a layup, trying to draw the foul.

“Biag was there for the rebound with just enough time left. We work on that. We don’t call time and try to use the chaos of the situation to help us.”

With chaos around him, Biagoli remained calm.

“We work in all different situations with five seconds put up on the clock,” said Biagoli, who is second on the team in rebounds and blocked shots. “I knew that Ashworth took the shot with about two seconds left. I figured I still had time.”

The basket started a string of events that forced the four-way tie by the time Sunday’s action ended. USMMA lost again Sunday while Scranton and Susquehanna completed sweeps and Catholic split two games.

“MMA was undefeated in the conference,” Danzig said. “We really felt like that was the game to win, not only for us, but to bring everyone in the race closer together.”

The next day Biagoli had 13 points at halftime and seven more in the first 4:06 of the second half when the Royals used a 13-3 run to open a 53-29 lead.

Biagoli is averaging 11.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots.

Scranton got the two wins while center Paul Hawk was sidelined with a concussion.

SCRANTON NOTES

Because the Landmark Conference does not get an automatic NCAA Division III tournament berth until its third season in 2009-2010, neither Scranton team is assured of getting into the tournament by winning the conference.

The Lady Royals (13-4) have appeared in 16 of the last 17 tournaments.

When Strong won his 700th game Sunday, he joined Phil Kahler of St. John Fisher as the only two to reach the mark in Division III women’s basketball. Kahler retired with 757 wins.

Tennessee’s Pat Summit leads the list of 12 who have won at least 700 on any level of women’s basketball. She has 998 after falling to Auburn on Sunday.

Summit is followed by: Jody Conradt, Sam Houston State, Texas-Arlington, Texas, 900; C. Vivian Stringer, Cheyney, Iowa, Rutgers, 815; Sylvia Hatchell, Francis Marion, North Carolina, 801; Kahler; Barbara Stevens, Bentley, 766; Tara VanDerveer, Idaho, Ohio State, Stanford, 739; Kay Yow, Elon, North Carolina State, 737; Andy Landers, Georgia, 720; Robin Selvig, Montana, 714; Sue Gunter, Stephen F. Austin, LSU, 708; and Strong.

Summit, Stringer, Hatchell, Stevens, VanDerveer, Landers and Selvig also remain active.

Megan Kopecki won her third Landmark Conference Player of the Week award this season and the fourth of her career for her effort in two wins.

Kopecki hit her first 12 shots of the weekend. She was 9-for-9 in Saturday’s 73-43 win over USMMA for 23 points to tie her career high. In Sunday’s 73-54 win over Drew, Kopecki had 20 points and four assists.

WALL OF FAME

Marywood University added two inductees to its Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Annemarie Tichy-McCloskey and Kerri Ruddy-Archer were the latest to be selected for the honor.

Tichy-McCloskey set most of Marywood’s field hockey scoring records before graduating in 1999.

A team captain for her final three seasons, Tichy-McCloskey finished with 48 goals and 28 assists in her career. She set season scoring records with 15 goals in 1992 and nine assists in 1997.

Ruddy-Archer, a two-time team Most Valuable Player and three-time Pennsylvania Athletic Conference all-star, played on three PAC playoff teams. She set the school record for career offensive rebounds with 400 from 1995-1999.

The Dunmore graduate scored 1,192 career points and helped Marywood’s 1996-97 team lead the nation in rebounding margin.

The new inductees were honored at halftime of Saturday’s game against Rosemont College.

HUCKABY GYM

Baptist Bible College honored former coach and director of athletics Jim Huckaby for his 40 years with the school earlier this month when it renamed its facility Coach Huckaby Court and the Huckaby Gymnasium.

“Jim Huckaby is a dedicated servant who has worked tirelessly to promote BBC,” said Dr. Jim Jeffery, BBC president. “He has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of teenagers who attended teen leadership or a camp and later became our students and athletes.”

Huckaby won 19 conference championships in 23 years and reached six National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association Division II men’s basketball national championship games, winning the title in 1979.

KEY VICTORIES

Second place in the Colonial States Athletic Conference was at stake in both games Monday night when Keystone College swept a basketball doubleheader from Marywood University.

Keystone remained alone in second place in the nine-team men’s league, preventing Marywood from forcing a three-way tie with an 80-59 rout.

Tercel Taylor scored 23 points to lead Keystone (6-2 in the CSAC, 12-4 overall) to its fifth straight win. The Giants are at unbeaten Gwynedd-Mercy Thursday night.

Marywood is still in second out of the six North Division teams in women’s basketball, but third-place Keystone caught the Pacers in the loss column with a 64-55 victory.

Leah Simko, who had eight rebounds, and Mid Valley graduate Jessica Sobesky each had 17 points for Keystone.

The Lady Giants are 4-4 and 9-7 while the Pacers are 5-4 and 10-7.

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