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PREVIEW: Men's basketball gets set for first-ever Atlantic East championship game

PREVIEW: Men's basketball gets set for first-ever Atlantic East championship game

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Marymount University men's basketball team has taken its place in the Atlantic East Conference championship game. The third-seeded Saints are set to take on top-seeded Gwynedd Mercy University on Saturday, February 23 at 2 p.m.

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How we got here:

The Saints defeated second-seeded Marywood University on the road on Thursday, overcoming an 11-point second-half deficit in a comeback win. They scored 37 points and the second half and held the Pacers to just 23 in the period, while a career-high 21 points from freshman Xavier Reaves led the way. Senior Brandon Rogers hit two big three-pointers to help tie the score, before Reaves connected from long range to complete the comeback.

How they got here:

Gwynedd Mercy hosted fourth-seeded Wesley College on Thursday, taking early control of the game with a 48-20 first half. The Griffins used a 38-10 run that spanned the final 12:36 of the half to gain their lead. They led by as much as 34 points in the game before taking the win. Courtney Cubbage led Gwynedd Mercy with 36 points and 10 rebounds in the contest, while five Griffins reached double figures in the game.

Last time we met:

The Saints went on the road on Wednesday, January 30 and took a 74-61 win over Gwynedd Mercy in the midst of a four-game winning streak. Sophomore Steve Etienne set his career high with 23 points in the game on 9-of-12 shooting. The Saints held a slight lead at halftime, 32-29, after leading for much of the first half, and pulled away in a 42-32 second frame. They led by as many as 18 points in the game.

Season series:

Marymount and Gwynedd Mercy split the two games between the teams in the first season of the Atlantic East. The Griffins came to the Converse Family Fieldhouse on Saturday, January 5, in a closely fought 73-72 win. The teams were only separated by four-or-less points for the majority of the second half, as Gwynedd Mercy was able to hold on for the victory. Marymount would then even the series in the teams' January 30 matchup.

Chasing history:

The championship matchup marks the first-ever title contest for the Atlantic East, which is in its first season of competition. The winner of Saturday's game will go down as the first team to win the Atlantic East men's basketball championship, etching its name in Atlantic East history from the very beginning.

What's next?:

The winner of the game will be crowned the Atlantic East champions and will then look to the NCAA Division III Championship Selection Show on Monday, February 25 at 12:30 p.m.