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Nothing but net: Men’s basketball team has eyes set on glory

By Alwyn Jimmy, Part-Time Staff Writer

Originally Published February 20, 2024

They say it’s the fine margins that separate the losers from the winners, and this was proven once again as Saint Vincent College (SVC) found a way past Washington & Jefferson (W&J) to clinch the 18th 20-win season in program history.

In a game that was far from comfortable for the Bearcats, it ultimately came down to the final moments as the visitors piled on the pressure. A collective gasp of relief accompanied the final buzzer as W&J missed a three-point attempt with the last throw of the ball.

Irrespective of how they got there, this was an important win for SVC. With it, the Bearcats have secured at least the two-seed, along with an extremely important home advantage for the semifinal game, in the upcoming Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) championship tournament, scheduled to start on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Fans look on as Taylor McNeal takes a free throw (SOURCE: JIMMY)

Led by Head Coach Don Paul Harris, the Bearcats have set their sights on the fast-approaching playoffs. Regarding the W&J game, Harris felt it was good game throughout.

“I thought we started the game well against W&J. We always like to see our seniors go out with a win. Fortunately for us, we will be hosting a game for the playoffs. It came down to the wire, but we expected that from W&J as we eliminated them from playoffs.”

In his second season in this stretch in charge of the team, Harris believes that this has already been a successful year and points to the team’s home atmosphere as a big advantage.

“This year’s season has been one of the most successful in the history of the program by wins. We broke the school record of 17 straight wins. We are still a very young team. One of the key contributors has been our attendance. The games have been very popular, and we have added some fantastic giveaways to bolster student support and have some fun on campus. We hope to do this with all other sports on campus as well.”

When asked about his team’s chances in the playoffs, and whether they will be able to go all the way, he said, “Yes, we feel strongly that we will make a deep run into March. We have hit our goal of winning 20 games. We are in a close race to win the PAC with Geneva. That is the best team Geneva have had in 30 years, so we are proud of the season that we have had. Our strategy won’t change – we’re going to stick with what has worked with us. We may tap deeper into our bench to rest some of our main guys the next two games, but that is about it.”

Finally, when asked about the biggest challenge his players will have to overcome in the playoffs Harris says he feels it is about controlling emotions and playing together.

“When we make it about ‘us’, and not about ‘me’, we are extremely good. However, with the young team that we have, sometimes it gets difficult to get past yourself. I am very proud of our players’ accomplishments, but we still have work to do. Our biggest advantage is our students. We have the loudest gym in the PAC and the best fans – we would love to continue growing it.”

With excitement building and the days ticking down, one thing is certain. Regardless of what happens, the Bearcats are ready to give their all, leave everything on the court and try achieving a dream ending to this spectacular season.

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