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Daemen women, men are USCAA champs

Both the men’s and women’s basketball championships in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association belong to Daemen College.

On their third try the Daemen men (21-10) broke through, routing Rochester (Mich.) College, 77-53, to win the men’s title at Penn State-Fayette in Uniontown, Pa. Tournament MVP Gerald Beverly led five Daemen double-figure scorers with 19 points. He also had eight rebounds and two blocked shots as he closed his career with the Wildcats.

Coach Dave Skolen’s Daemen women (14-15) had a little more difficult time but never trailed in defeating Berea (Ky.) College, 78-75, at the same location for its second national title in three years. Daemen never has lost to a USCAA opponent but did not qualify for the tournament last year.

Tournament MVP Raeann Stilwell (St. Mary’s, Lancaster) led the Wildcats with 24 points, including four three-point baskets in eight tries. Shy Britton had 21 points and eight rebounds.

“Raeann and Shy certainly came up huge for us today,” said Skolen. “They picked a great time to have one of their best games of the season.”

Coach Mike MacDonald’s Wildcats drilled four three-pointers in the game’s first six minutes to take a 20-7 lead. Jesse Lalka had 16 points for Daemen, including five threes in seven attempts. The Wildcats owned a 22-point lead at halftime, 43-21, and were in front by as many as 36 points in the second half, which they opened with a 17-8 run.

“From the opening play this was a thing of beauty,” said MacDonald in his first year as head coach after succeeding longtime coach Don Silveri. “We” the coaches “just got out of the way and let them play. Everyone contributed and the result speaks for itself.”