LANCASTER, Pa. – No. 25 Franklin & Marshall withstood a strong second half surge from Swarthmore and defeated the Garnet 75-64 in the Centennial Conference (CC) Championship Saturday at the Mayser Center. The game marked the 14th CC Championship F&M has participated in since conference play began in 1994 with the Diplomats winning their eighth CC Crown, and 19th conference title overall.
With the win, F&M earned the CC automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament and make the tournament for the 24th time in school history. The NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Selection Show will air this Monday, February 29th at 12:30 PM ET on NCAA.com.
F&M dominated in the opening 10 minutes of the first, limiting Swarthmore to just five points. The Diplomats took an early 14 point, 16-2, lead on a Brandon Federici triple early in the first half. F&M continued to pile on, and Cedric Moune made it 29-5 with a layup at 10:22. Matthew Tate pushed the score to 34-9 a few minutes later before the Garnet came within 20, 34-14, with 6:06 left in the first. The Diplomats scored five quick points to go back up 23 and held at least a 20-point advantage during the final five minutes of action and took a 50-26 lead into the break.
Federici had 17 points in the first and Tate, along with Moune, netted 10 each.
Swarthmore turned the tables in the second half and kept F&M off the board for almost five minutes with a 12-0 run to make it 54-42. Tate's layup at 13:48 made it 56-42, and the Garnet answered with seven straight and cut the deficit to five, 56-51, with 10:39 on the clock.
F&M countered with five straight to go up by 10 before the Garnet matched the Diplomats with five of their own. Two free throws from Zack Yonda made it a two-point game before Federici hit two from the line three minutes later to put F&M up four, 65-61. Two possessions later, the Garnet hit a three to come within one, 65-64, with 1:37 left in the game.
Tate converted a traditional three-point play on the Diplomats next trip down the court for a 68-64 lead at 1:09. The Garnet were unable to score down the stretch, and the Diplomats hit 7-of-8 from the line in the final 40 seconds to secure the win.
Moune garnered Most Valuable Player honors with a game-high 21 points. He shot 9-for-13 from the floor and hauled in nine rebounds. In the process, Moune became just the 34th player in program history to score over 1,000 points. Tate netted 19 and dished out five assists, Federici also had 19, and Lionel Owona ended with nine boards.
Shane Loeffler had 18 for Swarthmore, and Robbie Walsh finished with 11.
F&M outshot Swarthmore 51-38- percent, held a 36-32 edge on the glass and converted 11 turnovers into 13 points.