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MAC Championship Preview: Another Classic?

Willie Hope, III
Sports and Rec Editor

Banner retrieved from gomessiah.com.

For the second time in as many seasons, the Messiah women’s basketball team defeated Stevenson University in the MAC Commonwealth semifinals. But now the Falcons are heading to Reading, where their season has ended for the past two years.

The Falcons and the Albright Lions have held the top two spots in the conference for the past two seasons. Messiah has only suffered two losses this year, and both have come against the Lions. Now, they’ll meet for a third time in Reading for a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Two years ago, Albright defeated the Falcons 59-42 in the conference semifinals. In last year’s conference championship, Messiah battled back from a 12 point, first half deficit against the ninth-ranked Lions to tie the game at the end of the third quarter. However, the Lions pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to their first conference championship.

This year has seen much of the same from both teams–both the Lions and Falcons have balanced attacks. For Messiah, senior Gillian Glackin continues to lead the way on the offensive and defensive end. The First Team All-Conference selection leads the Falcons in points per game (13), rebounds per game (8.5) and blocks per game (1.73). Maci Thornton (11), Alecia Rohrer (10.7) and Kaitlyn Hoff (10.6) all contribute offensively as well, and all four received MAC Commonwealth honors this year, according to GoMessiah.

The Lions can match Messiah stride for stride in almost any category and they also have four players averaging double figures, led by Nina Mazzarelli at 14.8. Albright’s Jane Joyce and Messiah’s Hoff both lead the league in assists at 3.7 per game and, according to Albright athletics and Go MAC Sports, the two teams account for the top offenses in the league.

In this year’s two games, the Lions won a 85-82 shootout in Grantham that went down to the wire. Just last Saturday, the Lions took control of a back and forth game in Reading and handed the Falcons a 70-63 loss. The clashes between the conference’s finest bring out the best in Hoff and the Lions’ Alysha Lofton. Hoff averaged 22.5 points per game and four assists, while Lofton averaged 25 points per game and seven rebounds per game.

Historically, Messiah has dominated the conference as they are appearing in their 14th conference championship in the last 18 years. But the past two years have belonged to Albright, who has only lost one conference game in the past two years, a 59-49 loss in Grantham last year.

Now, a historic heavyweight and a newcomer are set for another classic in Reading. The game is set to start tomorrow at 2 p.m. For Messiah fans, tickets are just $2 for students. Go out and support the Falcons in the MAC Commonwealth Championship. For more information, go to GoMessiah.com or Gomacsports.com.

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