Men's Basketball Set for NCAA First Round

By Skidmore Athletics The men's basketball team celebrates their Liberty League Championship / Photo by Ed Burke

The Skidmore College men's basketball team will continue its run at a national championship when it takes on Wesleyan University in the NCAA Division III Tournament first round on Friday, March 6, at 5:30 p.m., at Johns Hopkins University. Skidmore captured its third Liberty League title in five years with a 68-64 win over Clarkson in Saturday's championship game. Junior guard Erik Sanders was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, after scoring 25 points on 8 of 9 shooting against the Golden Knights. Senior forward Connor Merrill had 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks, and junior guard Aldin Medunjanin added 13 points and four boards. The Thoroughbreds shot 53.3 percent (24-45) from the field, marking the seventh time this season that they have shot over 50 percent. Medunjanin, who was named the Liberty League Player of the Year, holds a conference-best 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. He ranks second in the conference in assists per game (4.1), third in steals per game (1.7), sixth in scoring (14.8 ppg), and seventh in 3-pointers per game. He has averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game over the last nine games. Merrill's shot-altering ability has played a vital part in Skidmore's defensive success this season. The four-time All-Liberty League selection has blocked four or more shots in eight games this season, averaging a league-best two blocked shots per game. He has also been a key contributor at the offensive end of the floor, leading the conference in field goal percentage (48.6 percent) and ranking ninth in scoring (14.1 ppg). Sanders, who was named to the All-Liberty League Second Team, has made a habit of getting to the basket, as indicated by his 133 free-throw attempts this season. He ranks second on the team in points per game (14.3), assists per game (2.2), steals (26) and 3-pointers per game (1.4). Freshman guard Royce Paris has been the team's unsung hero down the stretch, averaging 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in Skidmore's last 10 games. He tied a career-high, with 19 points in the Thoroughbreds 69-53 win over Clarkson in the final game of the regular season to help Skidmore clinch its first regular season conference title. He also contributed eight points, eight rebounds, and three assists in the championship game. He is averaging 9.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game off the bench this season. Skidmore, which is currently riding an eight-game win streak, has established one of the nation's top defenses this season. The Thoroughbreds rank fifth out of 417 Division III teams in field-goal percentage defense (37.6 percent); 11th in blocked shots per game (4.8); 19th in defensive rebounds per game (28.3); and 39th in scoring defense (62.3 ppg). Skidmore has held its opponents to under 40 percent shooting in 16 of 27 games. The Thoroughbreds are 16-2 over their last 18 games.

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