Rams advance to CACC championship game with 71-68 victory over No. 20 Dominican (N.Y.)

Rams advance to CACC championship game with 71-68 victory over No. 20 Dominican (N.Y.)

PHILADELPHIA –Freshman forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) recorded his first career double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds, both career-highs, to help the Philadelphia University men's basketball team knock off No. 20 Dominican (N.Y.), 71-68, in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament semifinal Friday night on the campus of the University of the Sciences.

Philadelphia improves to 19-9 overall and advances to its first conference final since2009.

Dominican, ranked fifth in the NCAA Division II East Region, is now 22-6.

Freshman forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) recorded his 12th double-double of the year as he poured in 11 points and hauled down 12 rebounds. Freshman guard Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) netted 14 points, while senior guard Jim Connolly (Harleysville, Pa./Souderton Area) added 12 points.

The Chargers got 20 points, 16 in the first half, from Leon Porter. Nick Smith came off-the-bench to score 14 points. Cory Quimby contributed 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

After trailing 5-0, Gibbs sparked a 9-0 run with a lay-up at the 16:43 mark to give the Rams a 9-5 advantage.  Johnson knocked down a three-pointer, one of his game-total three, to extend the gap to 15-8 with 12:14 to play in the first half.

A 10-2 run over a 3:20 span gave Philadelphia its largest lead of the half at 29-17. Johnson drained a basket with 23 seconds left to cap a 16-point half and give Philadelphia a 36-32 halftime lead.

Philadelphia outscored Dominican 9-4 to open the second half and quickly regain a nine-point lead at 45-36. Back-to-back baskets from Gibbs and Alexis allowed the Rams to once again lead by 10 (57-47) with just over 10 minutes to play.

With Philadelphia leading 59-49, Dominican made its big push as it rattled off 15 of the game's next 19 points, finished off by a Smith lay-up at the 3:12 mark, to take a 64-63 lead.

The Rams wouldn't be behind long as Gibbs knocked down a triple from the left wing on Philadelphia's next possession to give them a 66-64 advantage.

Leading 70-68, Alexis went 1-for-2 at the free throw line to put the Rams ahead 71-68 and ensure no worse than a tie. Dominican's final attempt, a three-pointer from the right corner, missed long to give Philadelphia the victory.

Philadelphia shot 46.4 percent (26-of-56) from the field and 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from three. Dominican connected on 37.3 percent (25-of-67) of its attempts, including 30.0 percent (6-of-20) of its three-pointers. The Rams edged out the Chargers in the rebounding department, 40-39.