#3 Tribe Faces #1 Delaware in CAA Championship Game
Last night, the Tribe didn’t win on any magic buzzer beaters. All they had was guts.
But that was all that the #3 Tribe needed to upset the #2 Towson Tigers on Sunday, 75-71. With the win, the Tribe advances to their third CAA Championship Game in seven years, and will face top-seeded Delaware. If the Tribe wins tonight, they will clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
“I think we beat a really fine basketball team,” said head coach Tony Shaver. The win was the Tribe’s fourth lower-seeded CAA Tournament win in the past seven years. If Towson were to have won, it would have been the Tigers’ first CAA Championship game.
The Tribe is one of five teams that have never been to the NCAA Tournament. The other four are Northwestern, Army, Citadel, and St. Francis. The Tribe is one win away from leaving that infamous club.
Marcus Thornton lead the Tribe yesterday with 21 points. For the seniors, Brandon Britt had 16 points, Kyle Gaillard had 12, and Tim Rusthoven had 10.
“Semifinals, big stage, bright lights. You’ve got to get excited for stuff like that,” said Thornton. The win improved the Tribe to 20-11 overall and 12-6 in CAA play, which marks just their second 20 win season in the last five years.
The Tribe is up against some tough competition to say the least. Delaware is 24-9 overall, and has only lost two of their 18 conference games.
“Delaware is one of the best offensive teams I’ve seen in this league since I’ve been here,” said coach Shaver. “We have to rebound the ball.”
The Tribe has been to the CAA Championship twice before, but have come up empty both times. In 2008, the Green & Gold made their first CAA Championship Game as the #5 seed, winning each game on a game-winner, but lost to George Mason, 59-68. In 2010, in what is still widely considered the best season in school history, the Tribe made it to the championship game, but lost a tough game to ODU, 70-63.
Regardless of who wins tonight, this will not be the Tribe’s last game of the season. With Saturday’s win, the Tribe clinched a spot in a postseason tournament. As of now, the Tribe is 135th in the RPI standings, which means that they could likely gain an upper-seed in the CBI (College Basketball Invitational), but if the Tribe plays well tonight, they could be looking at a possible CIT bid. However, the Tribe is unlikely to gain an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. If the Tribe wins tonight, they will likely earn a #16 seed in the NCAA’s, and will have to play an initial play-in game against another #16 seed. If the Tribe wins that game, they will face off with a #1 seed in the NCAA First Round, which could be a tough game to win, but the Tribe has already proven that they can do some serious damage.