LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall withstood a strong second-half surge from Rowan to defeat the Profs 68-63 in the championship game of the Sponaugle New Year's Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The tournament win is the 29th for F&M as the Diplomats improved to 8-3, while Rowan dropped to 9-4.
Justin Kupa was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player and joined teammate J.C. McGrath on the All-Tournament team. Rowan's DaRon Curry, Delaware Valley's Andre' Butler and Keene's Ty Nichols also earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Ignas Slyka put F&M up 6-3 early in the game, before Rowan went on a 13-7 run for a three-point, 16-13, lead at 14:11. The Diplomats countered with an 8-0 spurt for a 21-15 advantage, but the Profs came within two, 22-20, at 8:26. The Diplomats answered and went on a Justin Kupa led 8-0 run to go ahead 30-20 with a little more than four minutes to play. After Rowan outscored F&M 7-2 over the next three minutes, F&M netted the last two of the half for a 34-27 lead at the break.
The Profs opened the second with a commanding 21-6 run over the first nine minutes of action in the second half for a 48-40 edge with 11 minutes left to play. F&M answered with an 11-0 run with four points each from Matt Redhead and J.C. McGrath that put F&M out front 51-48 with a little more than eight minutes to play.
Six straight from Rowan put the Profs ahead 54-53 and F&M countered with a 7-3 spurt for a 60-57 edge at 4:26. Four from the Profs made it 61-60, before the Diplomats netted six straight to pull away and took a five-point lead, 66-61, with 1:32 left to play. After a bucket and three empty possessions from Rowan, Kupa put the game out of reach with two from the stripe in the final four seconds to secure the win.
Les Thomas paced the Diplomats with 15 points off the bench, while Ignas Slyka netted 13. Zach Ravitz hit 6-of-8 from the floor for 12 points and J.C. McGrath netted 10 points with nine rebounds and Justin Kupa ended with nine points.
F&M returns to action on Thursday when the Diplomats travel to Neumann for a 7:00 p.m. game.