Men’s and women’s basketball advance to Elite Eight

Daemen senior center Andrew Sischo, #22 battles to get a rebound over St. Thomas Aquinas’s Osbel Caraballo #15
Daemen senior center Andrew Sischo, #22 battles to get a rebound over St. Thomas Aquinas’s Osbel Caraballo #15.

By: Taty Scalisi

Despite the coronavirus disrupting sports around the world, two teams that have adjusted to changes, battled this adversity the past several months and went against the odds to achieve great success this year are Daemen’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

For the first time ever in program history, Daemen became the only school in the East Coast Conference to have both their men’s and women’s basketball teams advance to compete in the Elite Eight Championship during the same season.

Following an extremely close and intense 71-70 victory against St. Thomas Aquinas College, the men’s basketball team progressed to play West Texas A&M in Evansville, Indiana Wednesday, March 24.

During the Aquinas game, the Wildcats were led by two-time, All-American senior, Andrew Sischo, who contributed 25 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Additionally, senior teammate, Kyle Harris, added 21 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists to the team’s victory against Aquinas.

Unfortunately, the team’s season came to an end after sustaining an 83-91 defeat battling West Texas A&M closely until the very end. Despite such an upsetting loss, the team valued the opportunity getting to compete this season and enjoyed the overall experience being led by Coach Mike MacDonald.

Sischo once again led the Wildcats during this contested match by attaining a massive 29 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 blocks while teammate Sean Fasoyire followed behind Sischo and contributed 16 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.

“If you ask any of our players on the trip to Elite Eight, they would all tell you the same thing,” Sischo said. “They would tell how they wished the outcome was different and hoped we played better, but for me as a fifth-year senior and one of the leaders of the team, I look at it differently. 

“We never gave up, and we competed right to the end and only lost by 15 to a team who was one of the top in the country. It was a great experience, and I was just grateful that we competed up until the buzzer sounded. Seeing that we made it to the Elite Eight this year, our goal is to get there and get a win now and compete for the big trophy,” Sischo said.

Even after being put into quarantine the day before starting their season, the first game, and getting hit by a semi-truck on the way to one of the games, the men’s basketball team has continued to persevere through it all during this year’s season.

“This team is incredibly unique, extremely resilient, tough minded and very close. All of our experiences and the hard work the players have been putting into practice have led up to what we have accomplished so far this year,” said Coach MacDonald.

Daemen junior forward Katie Titus, #25 shoots a three-point field goal against D’Youville’s Riley Riedel #12.
Daemen junior forward Katie Titus, #25 shoots a three-point field goal against D’Youville’s Riley Riedel #12.

Following suit to the men’s basketball team, the lady Wildcats also received the opportunity to participate in the Elite Eight competition for the first time ever in program history for Daemen’s women’s basketball team to make an appearance.

After a well contested and successful 58-40 win against Roberts Wesleyan College, women’s basketball advanced to play against Lubbock Christian University in Columbus, Ohio Tuesday, March 23.

During the Roberts match, the lady Wildcats were led by two-time All East Coast Conference junior, Katie Titus, who provided 22 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 blocks. Supporting Titus was senior Caroline White, who tallied 13 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block to the women’s victory.

After traveling to Ohio to compete against the #1 seed in the tournament, the women’s basketball team unfortunately, suffered a 49-66 loss to Lubbock Christian University that ended their season.

During this match-up, White led the team with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist while Titus contributed 9 points, 7 rebounds, with 1 block and Mickayla Ivy added 10 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block.

“It was an incredible experience. We made history for our program but even just the opportunity getting to play against the number one team in the country to see where we match up. Ultimately, we did not have the performance we wanted but it shows us going forward what we need to do to improve for next year,” Titus said.

Even though the result was not what either team had hoped to achieve, the overall experience was truly unforgettable and many of the players coming back next season are ambitious to make a reappearance.

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