Matthews Adds to Résumé with Second Career D2CCA All-America Selection

ALBANY, N.Y. – Another day, another All-America honor for Nova Southeastern’s Mark Matthews, as the redshirt senior followed up his recent National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) recognition by landing on the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) All-America Honorable Mention Team. The All-America selection is now his fourth combined over the past two seasons.

The only player in program history to be named an All-American in multiple seasons, Matthews was arguably even better during the final year of his collegiate career. As the go-to offensive threat for the Sharks, the Bonita Springs, Fla. native paced the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense (101.8 ppg) by averaging 22.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 29 starts. Matthews’ efforts have individually placed him on the Bevo Francis Award Top 25 Watch List, which recognizes the nation’s top player across Small College Basketball, while they also propelled NSU collectively back to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the South Region. Matthews scored in double figures in all but one contest this winter, including a program-best and career-high, 45-point performance against Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 15, in addition to a 42-point display in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament final versus No. 5 Florida Southern. In just two seasons in a Shark uniform, Matthews closes his notable career among the program’s Top-10 in points (1,317), rebounds (522) and assists (269).

Matthews was one of just two players to represent the SSC across the All-America Teams, joining Florida Southern’s Brett Hanson.

Jordan Floyd of King (Tenn.) was tabbed the D2CCA 2020 Men’s Basketball Ron Lenz National Player of the Year.

To view a complete list of the 2020 D2CCA Men’s Basketball All-America Teams, click here.
 
 
 

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Crutchfield, Sharks Officially Announce Pair of 2020 Signees

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Despite an unfortunate end to the season in which head coach Jim Crutchfield and the Nova Southeastern men’s basketball team will be left without closure, the program has shifted gears and its focus towards the 2020-21 campaign, as Dallas Graziani and Alex Mangold were officially announced Wednesday as the newest signees within the upcoming recruiting class.

“I think the players in our system need to be good decision makers,” said Crutchfield, who has amassed a record of 52-10 over the past two seasons at NSU. “With the addition of Alex and Dallas, I think we have added two players that have a good understanding of the game, which is the basis for making those good decisions.”

The second Pembroke Pines Charter product over the past four years to land with the Sharks, Graziani proved to be a well-known spectacle within the South Florida basketball community, earning Broward Class 5A-1A Boys Basketball Player of the Year as a senior after guiding the Jaguars to their first-ever state title game. Known for his scoring ability, the lefty guard racked up an impressive 2,044 points throughout his career, leading the entire state of Florida in scoring during his junior campaign. Furthermore, Graziani was named a two-time member of the Broward Fab 5 and took home the three-point championship at the 2020 Broward County Athletic Association (BCAA) Boys Basketball All-Star Game.  

What Coach Crutchfield is saying: “Dallas has had four great seasons as a high school player here in South Florida. I think I’m as excited as anybody to see if he can bring his special skill set to the next level.”

Graziani on signing with NSU: “I chose NSU because I love the coaching staff. They are great people, and I think I’ll fit their style of play very well.”

Continuing the program’s Ohio pipeline, NSU adds Mangold to the mix following a successful four-year varsity career at Lakota East High School, where the 6-8 forward propelled the Thunderhawks to a school-record mark of 25-2 this past season. Mangold’s on-court efforts carried Lakota East to consecutive Greater Miami Conference and district championships, while he individually secured First Team All-GMC and First Team All-District 15 honors in the process. Off the court, Mangold was a four-time GMC All-Academic nod thanks to his cumulative GPA of 3.9.

What Coach Crutchfield is saying: “Alex fits the mold of our system’s frontcourt type of player. He is multi-skilled with his ability to shoot, pass and defend multiple positions.”

Mangold on signing with NSU: “I chose NSU because of the coaches and players dedicated to a winning culture. It’s a place I can see myself fitting in and having a successful career.”

NSU concluded the 2019-20 season with a record of 23-6, earning its second straight berth to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the South Region.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks on the recruiting trail, follow them on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball.
 

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NABC Names Matthews to 2020 All-America Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A mere 24 hours after securing National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District honors, Nova Southeastern redshirt senior Mark Matthews has now been selected to the 2020 NABC Coaches’ Division II All-America Team – establishing himself as the first player in program history to be named an All-American in multiple seasons.    

Tabbed an All-American a year ago by both the Basketball Times and Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA), Matthews was arguably even better during the final year of his collegiate career. As the go-to offensive threat for the Sharks, the Bonita Springs, Fla. native paced the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense (101.8 ppg) by averaging 22.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 29 starts. Personally, his efforts have already landed him on the Bevo Francis Award Top 25 Watch List, which recognizes the nation’s top player across Small College Basketball, while they also propelled NSU back to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the South Region. Matthews scored in double figures in all but one contest this winter, including a program-best and career-high, 45-point performance against Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 15, in addition to a 42-point display in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament final versus No. 5 Florida Southern. In just two seasons in a Shark uniform, Matthews closes his notable career among the program’s Top-10 in points (1,317), rebounds (522) and assists (269).

About the National Association of Basketball Coaches
Located in Kansas City, Mo., the NABC was founded in 1927 by Phog Allen, the legendary basketball coach at the University of Kansas. Allen, a student of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, organized coaches into this collective group to serve as Guardians of the Game. The NABC currently has nearly 5,000 members consisting primarily of university and college men’s basketball coaches. All members of the NABC are expected to uphold the core values of being a Guardian of the Game by bringing attention to the positive aspects of the sport of basketball and the role coaches play in the academic and athletic lives of today’s student-athletes. The four core values of being a Guardian of the Game are advocacy, leadership, service and education. Additional information about the NABC, its programs and membership, can be found at www.nabc.com.

A complete list of the 2020 NABC Coaches’ Division II All-America Team is available below.

Dalton Bolon, West Liberty, 6-4, Junior, Guard, Gnadenhutten, Ohio
Jordan Floyd, King, 6-2, Senior, Guard, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Qua Grant, West Texas A&M, 6-1, Sophomore, Guard, Waxahachie, Texas
Kylan Guerra, Thomas Jefferson, 6-0, Senior, Guard, White Plains, N.Y.
Brett Hanson, Florida Southern, 6-2, Senior, Guard, Manchester, N.H.
Cam Martin, Missouri Southern State, 6-9, Junior, Forward, Yukon, Okla.
Mark Matthews, Nova Southeastern, 6-6, R-Senior, Guard/Forward, Bonita Springs, Fla.
Courvoisier McCauley, Lincoln Memorial, 6-5, Sophomore, Guard, Indianapolis, Ind.
Selom Mawugbe, Azusa Pacific, 6-10, Senior, Center, Canyon Country, Calif.
Malik Miller, IUP, 6-4, Senior, Guard, Farrell, Pa.
Kyle Monroe, Michigan Tech, 6-5, Senior, Forward, Green Bay, Wis.
Joel Murray, West Texas A&M, 6-0, Sophomore, Guard, Rowlett, Texas
Brandon Myer, Minnesota Duluth, 6-8, Senior, Forward, Superior, Wis.
Tyrell Roberts, UCSD, 5-11, R-Sophomore, Guard, Sacramento, Calif.
Andrew Sischo, Daemen. 6-9, Junior, Center, Guilderland, N.Y.
Jake Van Tubbergen, Grand Valley State, 6-7, Junior, Guard/Forward, Holland, Mich.
 
 

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Postseason Awards Continue to Pile Up for NSU’s Mark Matthews

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Add two more honors to an already-impressive list of postseason awards for Nova Southeastern men’s basketball’s Mark Matthews, as the redshirt senior has officially been named to the Bevo Francis Award Top 25 Watch List in addition to being recognized as a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-South District First Team.

Matthews becomes the first player in program history to crack the Top 25 Watch List, while the all-district selection marks his second in as many seasons.

An All-American a year ago, Matthews has put himself in line to earn All-America accolades once again this season after guiding NSU back to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the South Region. The 6-6 forward led the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense (101.8 ppg) with 22.0 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 29 starts. The native of Bonita Springs, Fla. posted each of the program’s two highest single-game point totals this winter, pouring in a career-high 45 points against Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 15 before delivering a 42-point performance in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament final versus No. 5 Florida Southern. In just two seasons with the Sharks, Matthews finishes his career among the program’s Top-10 in points (1,317), rebounds (522) and assists (269).

Selected and voted on by member coaches of the NABC in NCAA Division II, Matthews was joined on the All-South District First Team by Barry’s Tylan Birts, Avery Brown of Miles, Valdosta State’s Clay Guillozet, Florida Southern’s Brett Hanson and Ryan Montgomery of Lee. Florida Southern’s Mike Donnelly was announced as the South District Coach of the Year.

The Clarence “Bevo” Francis Award is presented annually to the player who has had the finest overall season within NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA Division I, NAIA Division II, USCAA and NCCAA.. Considerations for the award include season statistics and individual achievements, awards, personal character and team achievements. This is an incredibly prestigious award, as this award will only be given to one player within Small College Basketball per season.

This year represents the fifth year of the Bevo Francis Award. Past winners include Dominez Burnett of Davenport in 2016, Justin Pitts of Northwest Missouri State in 2017, Emanuel Terry of Lincoln Memorial in 2018 and Aston Francis of Wheaton in 2019.

The finalists for this year’s award will be announced on Apr. 4, followed by the Bevo Francis Award winner being crowned on Apr. 6th.

To view the entire Bevo Francis Award Top 25 Watch List, click here.

The NABC All-District Teams can be seen here.
 
 
 

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Matthews Repeats as D2CCA First Team All-South Region Selection

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – On the heels of one of the most impressive statistical seasons to date by a Nova Southeastern men’s basketball player, Mark Matthews has been named to the 2019-20 Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA) All-South Region First Team – his second such honor in as many seasons.

An All-American a year ago, Matthews has put himself in line to earn All-America accolades once again this season after guiding NSU back to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the South Region. A member of the Bevo Francis Award Top-25 Watch List, Matthews led the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense (101.8 ppg) with 22.0 points to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 29 starts. The native of Bonita Springs, Fla. posted each of the program’s two highest single-game point totals this winter, pouring in a career-high 45 points against Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 15 before landing on the Sunshine State Conference All-Tournament Team thanks to a 42-point performance in the final versus No. 5 Florida Southern. In just two seasons with the Sharks, Matthews finishes his career among the program’s Top-10 in points (1,317), rebounds (522) and assists (269).

Previously awarded SSC Player of the Year, Florida Southern’s Brett Hanson has now also been tabbed the D2CCA South Region Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.

The teams were selected by NCAA Division II Sports Information Directors from institutions and conference offices in the South Region, made up of the Gulf South Conference, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Sunshine State Conference.

The 2019-20 D2CCA men’s basketball All-America team will be announced on Wednesday, Mar. 25. The five first-team members from each of the country’s eight regions are placed on the national ballot with NCAA Division II Sports Information Directors selecting first, second and third-team All-America honorees. The Ron Lenz Player of the Year will also be chosen from a list comprised of the eight Regional Players of the Year.

The Division II Conference Commissioners Association encourages and promotes Division II athletics and high standards of sportsmanship as important elements of higher education. The CCA is a key communications link among the conferences as they discuss views, policies and regulations that impact Division II intercollegiate athletics and works closely with the NCAA as a communications channel to NCAA Division II member colleges and universities.

For a complete list of the D2CCA All-South Region teams, click here.
 
 

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Sharks Land No. 2 Seed in Second Straight Trip to NCAA Tourney

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Having never reached the NCAA Tournament prior to 2018-19, head coach Jim Crutchfield and the Nova Southeastern men’s basketball team are now back in the Big Dance for the second consecutive season after earning the No. 2 seed in the South Region late Sunday night.

The Sharks (23-6) will face off against a familiar foe in seventh-seeded Embry-Riddle (20-10), who will be making its first all-time tourney appearance, in the opening round of play on Saturday, Mar. 14.

Winners over NSU in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament final earlier Sunday, Florida Southern (29-2) has been selected as the region’s top seed and host of the first three rounds. No. 3 seed Valdosta State (26-4) landed an at-large bid out the Gulf South Conference, while Alabama Huntsville (26-5) collected the No. 4 seed as the automatic qualifier out of the GSC after capturing the league title Sunday. The third GSC team among the field, Lee (22-7) locked up the No. 5 seed, with another NCAA Tournament first-timer in sixth-seeded Palm Beach Atlantic (21-9) and No. 8 seed Miles (24-4) rounding out the regional bracket.

In all, the Jenkins Field House on the campus Florida Southern will play host to seven games between Saturday and Tuesday: all four regional quarterfinal contests on Saturday, two second-round matchups on Sunday, Mar. 15, and the NCAA South Region Championship on Tuesday, Mar. 17. The winner will advance to the Elite Eight, the national quarterfinal round for the winners of each of NCAA Division II’s eight regions, which, along with the Final Four, will be held at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., beginning Mar. 26. The National Championship game is set for Sunday, Apr. 5 at 4 p.m. in Atlanta, Ga.

To view the complete NCAA Tournament bracket, click here.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the postseason, follow them on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sharks Unable to Slow Mocs in High-Scoring SSC Championship

LAKELAND, Fla. – Despite a program record for points in a Sunshine State Conference Tournament game with 42, Mark Matthews’ monster effort wasn’t enough, as No. 5 Florida Southern outlasted No. 20 Nova Southeastern by a final score of 118-109 to capture the SSC Tournament championship Sunday afternoon in Lakeland, Fla. The Sharks will now wait to hear their name called during tonight’s NCAA Selection Show, scheduled for 10:30 p.m. 

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: No. 5 Florida Southern 118, No. 20 Nova Southeastern 109
Records: No. 5 Florida Southern (29-2), No. 20 Nova Southeastern (23-6)
Location: Jenkins Field House | Lakeland, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MBasketball | Instagram – @NSU_MBasketball

HOW IT HAPPENED:
1st Half | NSU head coach Jim Crutchfield couldn’t have asked for a better start from his club, especially in a rowdy road environment, as the Sharks raced out to a quick 6-0 advantage following a spinning finish by freshman Jake Maranville. The Moccasins settled in, though, and rattled off seven unanswered to grab their first lead at 10-8 before consecutive three-pointers by Nick Smith helped NSU regain a slim, 14-13 edge with 15:06 remaining. A Lukas Speidel tip-in kept the Sharks within one possession, yet NSU would make just one of its next seven shot attempts until Shane Hunter’s bucket from the foul line made it a 22-18 contest in favor of the Mocs near the midway point of the half. NSU trailed by only five nearing the five-minute mark, but FSC soon found its rhythm from beyond the arc. Trading two’s for three’s, the Sharks fell behind by double-digits after a Jair Rodgers trey stretched the margin to 41-31. Jack Rauch, who tallied 20 of his career-high 31 points in the opening half, drilled a three to push the Mocs’ cushion to a dozen, when another triple widened the gap to 13 moments later. NSU trailed by as many as 14 in the opening 20 minutes, but managed to trim the margin to 54-43 heading into the locker room thanks to an Eddie Puisis bucket from beyond the arc in the final minute.

2nd Half | Smith connected from deep in the early moments of the second half, narrowing the deficit back to single digits. The margin would balloon to 76-61, though, with 13:56 left following another barrage of three’s by the Mocs until Matthews found a cutting RJ Sunahara for an easy two to cap a 6-0 spurt. Mikkel Kolstad’s first three of the afternoon kept the Sharks well within striking distance, down 78-70, still with 11:37 showing on the clock, which is where the deficit stood 4:05 later after Matthews converted from underneath the rim. A steal and dunk by SSC Player of the Year Brett Hanson once again handed the Mocs a double-digit lead, yet the Sharks found themselves staring a only a seven-point deficit after Connor Zinaich drilled a corner three on a feed from Sunahara. Despite three’s by Kolstad and Speidel, NSU still couldn’t get over the hump, as the much-needed run never showed up. The Sharks managed to cut the lead down to as close as 112-106 on Matthews’ first three-point make of the season. The comeback attempt proved too little too late, though, as FSC took care of business at the foul line to hold off the Sharks for its 25th all-time tournament title. 
 
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:

  • Matthews and Smith were each named to the SSC All-Tournament Team following the conclusion of the game. 
  • Sunday marked the first time this season the Sharks had lost when scoring 100-plus points. 
  • Matthews’ 40-point performance was his second this season, the first coming in a 45-point effort against Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 15. 
  • The Sharks are now 0-2 all-time in SSC Tournament finals – both defeats coming in the last two seasons. 

STATS OF THE NIGHT:

  • In addition to his 42 points, Matthews also collected six rebounds and a team-high five assists. 
  • Zinaich gave the Sharks a considerable lift off the bench, registering 18 points and seven boards in 24 minutes of action. 
  • NSU shot 57.5 percent in the second half, as opposed to 43.8 percent in the first. However, FSC converted 61.3 percent of its attempts after halftime, and 57.8 percent overall for the game. 
  • Hanson finished just two assists shy of a triple-double for the Mocs, totaling 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

UP NEXT:
A shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament, NSU will find out its opening-round matchup tonight when the 64-team field is announced. To watch the Selection Show, click here. To stay up-to-date with Sharks, follow them on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball. 
 
 
 

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Sharks Beat Palm Beach Atlantic to Set Up SSC Championship Rematch vs. Florida Southern

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Sunshine State Conference Tournament final is going to look awfully familiar, as No. 20 Nova Southeastern pulled away from Palm Beach Atlantic in the second half en route to an eventual 93-78 win, setting up a championship matchup with Florida Southern for the second year in a row this Sunday at 1 p.m. in Lakeland, Fla. Freshman Shane Hunter ignited the Sharks off the bench with a season-high 23 points, including a 6-of-7 effort from beyond the arc, while Nick Smith poured in 14 of his 16 after the break to become the 17th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. 

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: No. 20 Nova Southeastern 93, Palm Beach Atlantic 78
Records: No. 20 Nova Southeastern (23-5), Palm Beach Atlantic (21-9)
Location: Rick Case Arena | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MBasketball | Instagram – @NSU_MBasketball

HOW IT HAPPENED:
1st Half | The Sharks dug themselves into an early double-digit hole following a slow defensive start. A pair of Dan Largey three-pointers for the Sailfish handed the visitors a 16-9 advantage, which soon grew to 20-9 after a Justin Nichelson lay-in at the 13-minute mark. Hunter would inject some energy into the Sharks, though, with a three-pointer and a lay-up as part of a quick 7-0 spurt to pull NSU back to within four. Hunter kept things rolling with the Sharks still down 27-21, drilling a second triple before converting a three-point play in transition to knot the ball game at 27-27 with 6:39 remaining. Head coach Jim Crutchfield continued to ride his bench, and received back-to-back, three-point plays from Connor Zinaich and Lukas Speidel, as NSU grabbed its first lead since the opening minute of the contest at 33-30. Jake Maranville found Matt Weir for a three from the wing to extend the margin to 41-34 with 1:40 left in the half. The Sharks would stretch their lead to as many as eight, limiting PBA to just one made field goal over a 5:40 span, until a Largey trey in the closing seconds trimmed the gap to 42-37 heading into the locker room.

2nd Half | A Darhius Nunn finish in transition evened the score once again at 46-46. However, NSU didn’t flinch, and responded right back with 10 unanswered points, capped by a Mark Matthews bucket plus the foul. The lead was whittled back to just two with a little over 12 minutes showing on the clock. A key three by Speidel on the ensuing possession minimized PBA’s momentum, though, before Maranville banked in a three near the NSU bench to push the advantage back out to 67-58 midway through the half. From there, NSU would keep its foot on the gas, allowing the Sailfish to climb back to only as close as seven the rest of the way. Hunter’s fourth trey of the night pushed the margin back to double-digits, only to watch it rise to 13 moments later on three-pointer No. 5. Well in command with less than four minutes to go, a Smith three-point play put the game out of reach at 87-69, yet the junior made sure to score at least one more bucket, officially hitting the 1000-point mark on an easy lay-in to send the Sharks through to the final.

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:

  • Prior to the 2018-19 season, NSU had never made the SSC Tournament final, and will now return to the championship game for the second time in as many chances.
  • Saturday’s win avenged a one-point loss to the Sailfish as recently as Feb. 19.

STATS OF THE NIGHT:

  • Hunter (23) and Smith (16) led the way offensively for the Sharks, but also got plenty of help from Matthews, who finished with 15 points, and Speidel, who accounted for 10 more.
  • Two days after matching the program-record with 21 made three-pointers, NSU shot just 4-of-18 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Sharks would find much more of a rhythm in the second, though, connecting on 7-of-13 from deep.
  • RJ Sunahara pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, while Zinaich tallied eight of his own, as NSU won the rebounding battle by a 42-35 margin.
  • Thanks to an SSC Tournament program-record 17 offensive rebounds, the Sharks owned the Sailfish in second-chance points, 22-6.

UP NEXT:
NSU and Florida Southern will clash in yet another high-profile matchup this Sunday at 1 p.m. Both sides split during the regular season, with the road team –oddly enough – winning each meeting. For complete coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball.

 

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Matthews, Sunahara Represent Sharks on All-SSC Teams

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Less than 24 hours after its record-setting win over Rollins, the Nova Southeastern men’s basketball program has placed a pair of players on the respective All-Sunshine State Conference teams, announced by the league office Wednesday afternoon. Mark Matthews made his second straight appearance as an All-SSC First Team member, while RJ Sunahara was selected as the SSC Freshman of the Year in addition to being named to the All-SSC Newcomer Team.

The lone player in the SSC to repeat as a First-Team performer, Matthews has the credentials to once again be recognized as an All-American by season’s end. The redshirt senior has already landed on the Bevo Francis Award Top 50 Watch List, and continues to be the go-to guy for the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense (101.9 ppg). In 27 starts this season, Matthews ranks among the Top-3 in the SSC in: scoring (21.5 ppg), field goal percentage (0.619) and assists (5.3 apg), while his 7.2 rebounds per game are tied for ninth. He has scored in double figures in all but one contest, including a program-record, 45-point performance against Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 15, and in less than two seasons has become one of just 16 NSU players to surpass 1,000 career points.

“I’m extremely happy for Mark,” said NSU head coach Jim Crutchfield. “For as hard as he works, this honor is well deserved. His game has grown since he’s gotten here, and he’s proven himself as not only one of the most versatile players in the league, but in the country.”

Sunahara becomes the fourth NSU player to collect Freshman of the Year honors, and first since Malik Hardy took home the award in 2017-18, following a campaign in which he’s posted averages of 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds to go along with a team-high 1.6 blocks per game. Alongside Matthews, the Bay Village, Ohio product has given the Sharks arguably the SSC’s top frontcourt, using his length and leaping ability to affect the game on both ends of the floor. Tabbed the SSC Player of the Week back on Feb. 10, Sunahara has notched seven double-doubles thus far in 2019-20, and has reached double-digit points in eight of the past nine games entering Thursday’s SSC Tournament semifinal matchup versus PBA.   

“RJ has been an instant impact player in his first season with us,” Crutchfield. “The award shows the type of ability and potential he has. I hope something like this continues to drive him because I think he may only be beginning to scratch the surface.”

Florida Southern collected three of the league’s major awards, as Brett Hanson (SSC Player of the Year), Jalyn Hinton (SSC Defensive Player of the Year) and Mike Donnelly (SSC Coach of the Year) were each recognized after leading the Moccasins to the SSC regular season championship. Embry-Riddle’s Romeo Crouch was tabbed SSC Newcomer of the Year.

For a complete list of the All-SSC Teams, visit sunshinestateconferece.com.

 

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Historic Shooting Night Sends Sharks to SSC Semis

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The nation’s No. 1 shooting team certainly looked the part on Tuesday night, as second-seeded Nova Southeastern opened Sunshine State Conference Tournament play in commanding fashion, beating seventh-seeded Rollins by a final score of 115-81 in quarterfinal action. The Sharks shot a program-record 67.2 percent from the field, including an eye-popping 21-of-32 from beyond the arc, and led by 20 points less than eight minutes into the ball game en route to victory. Mikkel Kolstad paved the way offensively with a game-high 23 points, while five others also reached double figures.

INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: No. 20 Nova Southeastern 115, Rollins 81
Records: No. 20 Nova Southeastern (22-5), Rollins (14-15)
Location: Rick Case Arena | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MBasketball | Instagram – @NSU_MBasketball

HOW IT HAPPENED:
1st Half | Kolstad didn’t take long to heat up on Tuesday, draining a pair of three-pointers within NSU’s first three possessions to push the Sharks out to an instant 6-0 advantage. The offense would prove to only be getting started, too, as NSU then forced the Tars to call timeout after Mark Matthews found Shane Hunter in transition for a one-handed slam. Still with 13:38 to play, Nick Smith hit Eddie Puisis in the corner for a trey to stretch the margin to 20-5, forcing another Rollins timeout. A give-and-go between Hunter and Smith built the lead to 20 before a quick seven points off the bench by Lukas Speidel made it a 34-12 ball game just past the midway point of the half. Rollins trimmed the margin back to 15, yet the Sharks responded with 10 unanswered points, including six from Puisis, over a span of 1:54 to gain a 47-22 advantage with 4:37 left. A steal and finish by Matthews in the ensuing moments, followed by Puisis’ fifth triple of the half, extended the advantage to 30, which is where it would remain as NSU entered the break comfortably in front 61-31.

2nd Half | Similar to the first half, Kolstad drilled three’s on two of NSU’s opening three possessions to keep the lead at 69-38. Rollins would get only as close as 28 until Kolstad connected on his seventh three of the night at the 14:06 mark. Still well in control, a kick-out from Matthews to Smith for three more grew the margin to 91-61. Taking advantage of a Tars turnover, Matthews hit RJ Sunahara on a back cut the next time down for an easy dunk before head coach Jim Crutchfield pulled his starters with 6:40 to go and the game all but decided.

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:

  • The Sharks’ 33 assists on Tuesday set a new NCAA-era record since the program joined Division II back in 2002-03.
  • The 21 made three-pointers matched the all-time record for the most in a single game.
  • NSU’s 115 points marked the second most ever scored in an SSC Tournament contest, trailing only Florida Southern, who racked up 121 in the 1988 semifinals.
  • The 34-point win is also the largest margin of victory in an SSC Tournament game since Florida Southern beat Florida Tech by 49 back in 2009.

STATS OF THE NIGHT:

  • The Sharks received huge contributions from their bench, outscoring Rollins’ reserves by a combined 54-18 margin, including 37-5 in the first half alone. Puisis finished the night with 17 points, while Speidel and Hunter added 15 and 11, respectively.
  • Led by Kolstad’s seven, eight NSU players recorded at least one three-point make in the effort. The senior shot 19-of-32 from beyond the arc in three meetings with Rollins this season.
  • Matthews notched his seventh double-double of the season, totaling 14 points and a game-high 10 assists.
  • NSU’s defense forced Rollins into 24 turnovers, 18 of those coming in the opening 20 minutes.

UP NEXT:
Faced with a quick two-day turnaround, NSU will now turn its attention towards Thursday’s semifinal clash at home against No. 3 seed Palm Beach Atlantic. Both sides split the regular season series, with each team winning on its home floor. For complete coverage of the 7 p.m. tip-off, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball.

 

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