The Berkeley College men's basketball team wrapped-up its 2018-2019 season on Tuesday morning, falling to Villa Maria by a score of 88-69 in the consolation game of the USCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament. The game took place in the Main Gymnasium on the campus of Penn State Fayette. With the loss, the Knights completed their season at 21-6, while the Vikings ended their campaign at 25-4.
The triumph for Villa Maria against Berkeley was the first in three attempts by the Vikings against the Knights on the National stage. Berkeley turned back Villa Maria 91-64 in the quarterfinal round of the 2016-2017 tournament, before defeating the Vikings convincingly, 93-77 in last year's championship game.
Berkeley College finished the 2018-2019 season on a two-game losing skid, its first losing streak since dropping consecutive games in the middle of the 2014-2015 season (a December 31, 2014 loss to Trinity, and a January 3, 2015 defeat to Mercy).
Despite the loss for Berkeley, junior Stevaun Latouche played a strong game, as he recorded his third double-double of the season by posting team-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Nigel Hemingway connected on two baskets from beyond-the-arc, and four of his six shot attempts overall, to finish the day with 10 points, and Anthony Hemingway finished with nine points and three rebounds.
In the victory for Villa Maria, DeJaun Owens connected on six three-point baskets, and six of his seven attempts from the charity stripe, on his way to finishing with a game-high of 30 points. He also added six rebounds, as well. Dominic Douglas drained all 13 of his free throw attempts, and seven of his 14 attempts from the floor, to finish with 27 points. He also added 13 rebounds and four assists. Jonathan Pozo finished his day with 12 points, five caroms, and a pair of swatted shots, and Lonnie Taylor had a fine all-around game with 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Berkeley College held an early 9-6 lead in the opening 2:41 of action, but a 14-2 Villa Maria run over the ensuing 3:43 catapulted the Vikings to a 20-11 advantage. Villa Maria continued to build its lead, eventually grabbing a 33-18 edge before taking a 45-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the second stanza, Berkeley College would pull to within seven at one point (50-43), but that is the closest the Knights would get, as Villa Maria would hold at least a double-digit lead for the final 8:38 of the contest, eventually going on to win the game by 19 points.
The Vikings connected on 41.8 percent of their attempts from the floor (28-67) compared to a 32.2 percent conversion rate for Berkeley (29-90). Villa Maria hit on 25 of its 33 opportunities from the line (75.8 percent), while the Knights' charity stripe woes continued, with Berkeley nailing just six of its 17 shots from the line (35.3 percent). The Knights held a respectable edge in the rebounding department, snatching 59 caroms to Villa Maria's 51, and Berkeley narrowly won the turnover battle, committing 14 miscues while forcing 15 opposition mistakes.
Despite not capturing another USCAA Division II National crown, Berkeley College still accomplished plenty this season. For the Knights, they captured their fifth consecutive HVIAC crown, qualified for their ninth consecutive USCAA Tournament appearance, and recorded their fifth straight 20-win season. In addition, Ricardo Ayuso was tabbed as the National Player of the Year, with Deylon Bovell receiving Honorable Mention recognition, and three players were tabbed to the HVIAC All-Conference team (Ayuso, Bovell, and Shamiek Sheppard). The team will reload, regroup, and refocus its efforts on next season, as Berkeley will aim to win its sixth consecutive Regional crown, and the program's fifth National title.