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Morrisville State, Rhode Island to meet Saturday in NCAA Division III Tournament second round

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Morrisville State College men’s basketball made history Saturday night, stunning the 15th ranked team in the nation by D3hoops.com, Ramapo, with an 86-78 opening round victory in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The Mustangs advance to the second round of the championship tourney to face Rhode Island College, who topped Hobart in extra time by a 62-59 margin. The Anchormen are ranked #13 nationally by D3hoops.com with a 26-3 overall record.

Morrisville State and Rhode Island meet for the first time in the history of the two programs on Saturday, and this could prove to be one of the most challenging match-ups for the Mustangs as the Anchormen are a strong defensive squad.

Rhode Island ranks second overall in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 55.8 points per game, and top the field in defending the long range shot (.270 percent shooting by opponents). The Mustangs, who boast on average 78.8 points per game, and hit 7.6 from downtown, will certainly feel the pressure from the defensive oriented squad.

Morrisville State head coach Joseph Smith believes that the team is balanced beyond scoring from just long range. “Our ability to shoot the three and score in the 70’s and 80’s will certainly be tested. However, our strength is in our team’s ability to adapt to the challenge of an opponent’s defense and score in whatever way possible.”

The Mustangs, who were matched pretty even with Ramapo, will face a Rhode Island team that again mimics their style play. The Anchormen like to run and can score in several different ways, having three that average double figures, and depth that extends to four or five deep on the bench.

Not that it’s that much different with Morrisville State, who according to Coach Smith, “has the opportunity to play a group of players who have the ability to matchup best with each opponent.”

Described offensively as “dynamic” and “dangerous”, Morrisville State has five that average double figures and a bench, that in the opening round, proved to be the difference maker, outscoring their opponent 36-2.

As with any team in the tournament making shots, hitting the boards and maintaining composure are part of the game plan; but for the Mustangs, an addition will be taking care of the ball, as evident by the Anchormen’s defense that forced 26 Hobart turnovers in the opening round.

Despite the test of playing on Rhode Island’s home court, Smith feels that the team is focused and ready for the challenge. “Each step in this run will present new and tougher challenges. Our guys are excited and ready for the opportunity to advance to the ‘Sweet 16’.”

The contest is being played at the Murray Center on the Rhode Island College campus in Providence. Tickets are on sale at the Rhode Island Athletic Department and at the door, and cost $6 for adults, and $3 for students with valid ID and senior citizens.

For those unable to make the trip, live stats and video will be available for the contest. Links will be posted on the Morrisville State athletics web site at http://athletics.morrisville.edu/schedule.aspx?sportid=8, as well as in-game updates provided through the athletics facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/morrisvillestatecollegeathletics.

Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Community Service Honor Roll. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion