Knights Win Second Consecutive USCAA Division II National Championship
The Berkeley College men's basketball team put an exclamation point on perhaps the best season any team in any sport has had in the history of athletics at the institution, as the Knights solidified their second consecutive USCAA Division II National championship by turning back Central Penn by a score of 107-88 in the 2015-2016 tournament's championship game. The contest was played in the Main Gymnasium on the campus of Penn State Fayette. The victory was the 24th straight triumph for Berkeley, which dating back to last season boasts a record of 35-1 in its last 36 games.
While last season's National championship team showed tremendous heart and grit by grinding out three victories in the 2014-2015 National Tournament by a combined nine points, the 2015-2016 Knights were all business with uncanny killer instinct in the second halves of contests. Berkeley not only won its three tournament games by a combined 54 points, but it also held a 158-125 combined edge in the second halves of the wins. Following the victory, Head Coach Chris Christiansen gave his heartfelt thoughts on his club's accomplishment.
"All season, our student-athletes remained humbled through all victories while working diligently to ensure that they gave themselves the best chance to win the next game," Mr. Christiansen said. "Their actions and execution on the court spoke louder than their words. Today's victory iced a monumental campaign characterized by the players' teamwork, ability to withstand adversity, and willingness to buy into the concept of team-first basketball. These attributes and abilities are the traits of true champions."
The magical and historic 2015-2016 Berkeley College men's basketball season featured a number of highlights, with many astounding accomplishments. The Knights won 24 consecutive games to finish this season, and that current winning streak is longest for any team in Berkeley College's history. Additionally, the team won its eighth Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship, and Coach Christiansen was voted as one of the Co-Coaches of the Year. Keenan Langston, Massiah Merritt, and Stephon Jennings were not only HVIAC All-Conference selections, but all three also earned USCAA All-American statuses (Langston earned First Team honors, while Merritt and Jennings earned Second Tem praise). Alessandro DeAngelis was also tabbed to the National All-Academic team.
In the victory over Central Penn, Berkeley was paced by Merritt, who finished the contest with game-highs of 34 points and seven steals. He also grabbed eight rebounds as well (including three on the offensive glass) and tallied three assists. Following the game, he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. First year standout Johnnie Green connected on 12 of his 16 shots from the floor to finish with 27 points. He also added 13 rebounds and a pair of blocks, and was named to the All-Tournament team following the conclusion of the contest. Finally, it was Langston putting a cap on his brilliant Berkeley College career by netting 15 points, snatching three rebounds, and contributing three assists.