UNIONTOWN, Pa. - Penn State Wilkes-Barre captured their first ever National Championship on Wednesday night, as their men's basketball team topped Johnson & Wales (Charlotte) 86-64 to win the USCAA Men's Division II title in the Main Arena at Penn State Fayette. The no. 3 seeded Lions capped a stellar season with the trophy, finishing 25-5 on the year, including an 18-1 mark in the PSUAC.
Wilkes-Barre was led by senior Jordan Williams, who picked up All-Tournament MVP honors after a title game performance of 20 points and 12 rebounds. Teammates Levaughn Knight-Soules, Ameer Biddle and Dominique Stevenson also finished the game in double figures, with Knight-Soules earning All-Tournament honors after adding 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks off the bench in the championship.
Wilkes-Barre used a hot start to grab an early lead and never looked back. The Lions continued to extend their advantage throughout the first half, leading by as many as 23 about 15 minutes into the contest. Johnson & Wales would cut it to 20 at the half on a late three-pointer, but the deficit was too much. Every time the Wildcats made a push, Wilkes-Barre answered with a basket of their own. The Wildcats would get no closer than 15 during the half, a 76-61 Wilkes-Barre lead with only 2:25 left to play.
Biddle finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Stevenson added 13 points. Wilkes-Barre shot nearly 48 percent from the field while holding the Wildcats to 34 percent. The Lions also won the rebounding battle, 49-41.
Wilkes-Barre won their quarterfinal game over no. 6 seed NHTI in thrilling fashion, a 70-68 win that went down to the wire and saw the Lynx miss a game-tying layup at the buzzer. The Lions nearly squandered a 21-point second half lead in that game, but advanced behind Williams' strong outing of 18 points and 18 rebounds. After a day off, Wilkes-Barre took on no. 10 seed Vermont Tech, who had already upset the no. 7 and no. 2 seeds in the tournament. Wilkes-Barre held serve to take an 80-74 win and secure their spot in the championship game. Once again it was Williams who led the way with 19 points, while Khalil White added 17 points.
The title is the first ever men's basketball championship for a PSUAC program, as Wilkes-Barre joins Penn State Beaver (women's basketball), Penn State DuBois (baseball) and Penn State Brandywine (men's Division II soccer) as USCAA National Championship programs from the conference.