Friday, November 3, 2017

PREVIEW: Bloomsburg University Men's Basketball To Battle Penn State In Exhibition Contest Sunday

The Bloomsburg University men's basketball team will make the short trip west to battle the Nittany Lions of Penn State University in an exhibition contest on Sunday, November 5. Tip-off from the Bryce Jordan Center is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.

The Huskies have played a couple of scrimmages over the last week but this will be a huge test for head coach John Sanow and the team as they prepare for next Friday's season-opener against Penn State Hazleton.

"We want to compete," said Sanow about the opportunity. "We want to go in there and, first and foremost, play hard. We're probably going to be nervous early but once we get over that we want to settle down, execute on both ends of the floor, and compete for 40 minutes."

Sanow will be entering his 12th season at the helm of the Huskies and he has guided the team to a 133-163 overall record in his first 11 years. Bloomsburg has only three returners from last year's team that finished 15-12 overall and 11-11 in divisional play. The Huskies earned a home game in the opening round of the PSAC tournament but dropped an 84-77 decision to West Chester University. It marked the second straight year that the Huskies made the conference playoffs.

Last week, Bloomsburg was picked to finish seventh in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division according to the preseason coaches poll. Ten newcomers join the team this season with three of those - Hashim Moore (Sunrise, Fla./Hun School), Austin Harriott (Philadelphia, Pa./Hun School), and Khary Mauras (Reading, Pa./Reading) - transferring in from Division I schools. Harriott spent one season at Loyola (Md.) while Mauras played a year at Old Dominion. The third Division I transfer, Moore, will be a graduate student after playing both basketball and football during his undergraduate career at Princeton University.

Returning for the Huskies are redshirt senior Christian Mortellite (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton), senior Kyle-Michael Rose (Middletown, Del./Sanford School), and redshirt sophomore Sam Saxton (York, Pa./Central York). Mortellite's younger brother, Peyton Mortellite (Hammonton, N.J./Hammonton), is also on this year's roster after redshirting as a true freshman a season ago.

The elder Mortellite finished as the NCAA Division II leader in three-pointers made per game (4.07) last year and earned All-PSAC Eastern Division First Team accolades for the second consecutive season. He was also honored by the NABC as a Second Team All-District selection – the first player from Bloomsburg to earn an NABC honor since Dontahe Jordan in 2011-12. The sharpshooter led the Huskies in scoring, averaging 22.7 points per game becoming the first Huskies' player since Tom Barlow, who averaged 20.3 points per game during the 2002-03 season, to average at least 20 points per game in a single campaign. His 22.7 points per game average was the third-highest figure in the PSAC. Mortellite broke the single-season school record for points with 613 last year which broke the previous record of 600 set by Mike Ellzy during the 1996-97 season. He has moved into fourth place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,484 points. He needs 428 points to surpass Ellzy's school-record of 1,911. Mortellite also broke the school-record for most threes made in a season (110) and three-point attempts in a season (255). He has also moved into second on the school's all-time career three-pointers made list with 227. He needs 11 to break Lorenzo Christmas' record of 237 he set from 2010 to 2014.

Expected to provide help for Mortellite are Rose and Saxton. Rose averaged career-highs in points (7.4) and rebounds (3.9) while blocking 28 shots in 27 games last season. The senior has averaged 5.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in two seasons with the Huskies. He also has 69 blocked shots for his two-year career. Saxton, meanwhile, averaged 4.6 points and made 17-of-33 three-pointers last season.

Penn State, meanwhile, finished 15-18 last season with a 6-12 mark in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions knocked off Nebraska in the opening round of the conference tournament but then saw their season come to an end with a 78-51 loss to Michigan State in the second round.

The Nittany Lions return five of their top six scorers from last season, all of whom averaged at least 7.7 points per game. Sophomore Tony Carr led the team as a rookie by averaging 13.2 points per game a year ago. Sophomore Lamar Stevens (12.7), senior Shep Garner (12.0), redshirt sophomore Mike Watkins (9.7), and junior Josh Reaves (7.7) also return for head coach Patrick Chambers who has guided Penn State to four consecutive 15-win seasons - the first-ever time in program history during the Big Ten era.

"We're really looking forward to it," said Sanow. "Our team has been working hard all preseason and now we have an opportunity to go to Penn State and play at the Bryce Jordan Center against a Big Ten team - it's something that's really exciting for our players and our program."

After the exhibition contest on Sunday, the Huskies will open the season for real on Friday, November 10, when they host Penn State Hazleton at the Nelson Field House. Start time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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