Camels to face ETSU in A-Sun quarterfinals
BUIES CREEK, N.C. -- For the 2nd-straight year, Campbell and East Tennessee State will meet in the quarterfinal round of the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference championship tournament at Macon, Ga.
Wednesday's 9:00 p.m. tip-off at the University Center on the Mercer campus will also mark the 2nd meeting in a week between the pair. Last Thursday, ETSU (21-10, 16-4) dealt the Camels (12-18, 6-14) a 66-59 loss in Buies Creek behind a career-high 22-point performance by junior guard Adam Sollazzo. Isiah Brown added 21 points and Justin Tubbs 14 for the Bucs, who played without their two scorers, Mike Smith (16.9) and Micah Williams (14.9), both of who missed the game with injuries.
Amir Celestin led CU with a season-high 16 points, a total matched by backcourt mate Junard Hartley. Preston Dodson added 12 and Rico Ferguson 10. The Camels concluded the regular season Saturday with a 70-64 loss to USC Upstate. CU has been without 2nd-leading scorer Lorne Merthie (11.2 ppg), who has missed the last 7 games with a knee injury.
Kennesaw State (8-22, 6-14) will take the 8th seed into Wednesday's 2:30 p.m. match-up with top-seeded Belmont (27-4, 19-1).
Thursday's quarterfinal action pits 3rd-seeded Jacksonville (19-10, 13-7) against 6th seed North Florida (13-18, 10-10) at 2:30 p.m. Fourth seed Lipscomb (17-12, 12-8) takes on 5th seed and host Mercer (14-17, 11-9) at 9:00 p.m.
Friday's semifinals are scheduled for 6:30 and 9:00 p.m. Saturday's 6:00 p.m. championship game will air live on ESPN2.
All Campbell games in the A-Sun men's basketball championship will be aired on WCLN 107.3 FM out of Fayetteville. Air time for Wednesday's contest is 8:30 p.m. with Robert Harper on the call.
Last year, Williams scored a career-high 32 points, including 10-of-10 from the line and the 5th-seeded Bucs downed the 4th-seeded Camels 72-64 in the quarterfinals en route to their 2nd-straight league tourney crown.
The Fighting Camels stand 2-11 all-time in A-Sun tournament play, while ETSU is 9-3 and owns the highest winning percentage (.750) in the event among all current A-Sun members.
CU senior forward Preston Dodson has produced the finest season of his career in 2010-11. On Saturday, he moved into 4th place on CU's all-time games played charts. In addition, he is averaging 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game -- both career highs -- while ranking 6th among A-Sun leaders in field goal percentage (.526).
Senior point guard Junard Hartley's name is etched throughout the Camel record books. He ranks 2nd in career starts (114) and assists (594), 3rd in games played (120) and steals (210). He stands 2nd on the A-Sun career assists charts and 11th all-time in steals. As a senior, Hartley is scoring at a career-high 10.4 points per game clip (22nd in the A-Sun). He ranks 2nd in the league in assists (5.13), 8th in steals (1.53).
Camel junior forward Eric Griffin stands 9th among league scoring leaders (13.1), 6th in rebounding (6.9), 8th in field goal percentage (.498) and 2nd in blocked shots (2.11). He has already broken the school season individual blocks record (59).
This week's action also marks a homecoming for Camel freshman forward Marvelle Harris, a Macon, Ga., native who prepped at Northeast High School before playing his final season at Martinsville, Va., Heat Academy. He was an all-state performer as a junior at Northeast, where he average 17 points 13 rebounds and 6.5 blocks in 2008-09.
Harris enters the A-Sun tournament ranked 5th among A-Sun leaders in blocked shots (1.57 per game) and 20th in rebounding (5.4). He is scoring at a 5.8 clip and shooting 50.3 percent from the floor.
Campbell players have missed a total of 39 games due to injury this
year. Thirty-six of those absences accumulated by players who were
starters in the first month of the season -- Amir Celestin, Preston
Dodson, Lorne Merthie and Andrew Ryan. By contrast, last year's
squad had only one missed game due to injury by any of its roster
members (Miles Taylor sat out the opener vs. St. Andrews with a
finger injury). The 2009-10 team tied for the A-Sun regular season
title and finished 19-11 overall, 14-6 in the league.
Campbell / A-Sun Tournament Notes:
This week's event marks the final A-Sun tourney appearance for CU, which will re-join the Big South Conference on July 1, 2011.
CU, Belmont, East Tennessee State, Lipscomb and Mercer are the only schools to participate in each of the last 6 A-Sun tournaments. CU has lost its last 4 games in the event, including 3-straight quarterfinal setbacks.
Including a 9-8 record in the Big South Conference tournament from 1986-94, Campbell owns an 11-19 record in league championship play as a Division I member. Campbell won the 1992 Big South Tournament (from the no.-3 seed) and advanced to the NCAA tourney, where the Camels lost to No.1 Duke in the first round.
Upsets have been common in the A-Sun tournament history. The 8th seed is 5-19 all-time vs. the top-seed, while the 7th seed is 4-23 vs. the 2nd seed. Last year, 8th-seeded Kennesaw State knocked off top-seeded Lipscomb 72-69 in the quarters. The last time a 7th seed won in the quarterfinal round was 2003 when Georgia State ousted Belmont 76-58 in Atlanta.
Campbell has lost to the eventual tournament champion 8 times in the A-Sun, falling to Central Florida (1996), College of Charleston (1998), Samford (1999, 2000), Belmont (2006, 2007, 2008) and East Tennessee State (2010).