MONROEVILLE, Pa. - Behind 19 points from Dipo Olaleye and 18 from Garrett Dhans, the Westmoreland County Community College men's basketball team advanced to the WPCC Tournament semifinals with a 67-60 victory at CCAC-Boyce Friday night. The win means Westmoreland will play at #1 seed Butler Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
It was a slow start for the Wolfpack, but their offense started to get going late in the first half. Behind a pair of threes and 10 points from Luke Stein and nine markers each from Olaleye and Dhans, Westmoreland overtook the Saints late in the period and carried a 32-29 advantage into halftime.
After the break, Westmoreland gradually pulled away in the second half. A Wolfpack bucket was immediately followed by a steal and lay-in by Dhans which took their lead to 47-38 with 12 minutes left and drew a Boyce timeout. The home team scored the next two buckets, but that was answered by a 13-4 spurt by Westmoreland, which was capped by a drive and score by Xavier Johnson that gave the Wolfpack their largest lead of the game at 60-46 with just under five minutes to go.
The victory would not come easily for Westmoreland, as Boyce climbed back into the game with an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to slice the Wolfpack lead to 62-57. Boyce nearly moved within a score when a three-point attempt rolled off the rim. The Wolfpack grabbed the rebound and then went 6-for-6 from the foul line, with Dhans hitting four and Olaleye making two, to put the game away and clinch the Wolfpack's spot in the semifinals.
Top scoring honors went to Olaleye, who dropped in 19 for the game and made it a double-double with 13 rebounds. Dhans made 7-of-8 from the foul line and finished with 18 points while also making three steals. Stein's big first half helped him total 13 and Johnson was an efficient 6-for-8 from the floor in tallying 12 markers. On the rebounding front, Michael Yuricha had another solid night on the glass by hauling down 10 boards.
Saturday's game will be a replay of a match-up just contested Wednesday night when Westmoreland, despite playing with just four players after two others fouled out by the 12 minute mark of the second half, took Butler to the wire before falling 91-87. The Pioneers swept the season series from the Wolfpack, as they won the first meeting 111-79 on Jan. 16th. Olaleye, who averaged 29 points and 11 rebounds in two games against Butler this year, and Yuricha, who averaged 18 points and 12 boards against the Pioneers, will need to have similarly big games to try to counter Butler's Joel Stutz, who averaged 36.5 points and 13.5 rebounds against the Wolfpack this season.
The winner of Saturday's semifinal will play in the WPCC Tournament title game Sunday. If Butler wins, they will host the championship tilt but if the Wolfpack come away with a win, they will play at the winner of the other semifinal featuring #3 Pitt-Titusville at #2 Penn Highlands, who will play Saturday at noon.