LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall fell to Susquehanna 77-69 in the championship game of the Sponaugle New Year's Tournament Monday afternoon. The Diplomats dropped to 4-6 on the season, while the Crusaders improved to 8-3.
Justin Kupa was named to All-Tournament Team, ending the tournament with 39 points. He was joined by Riley Welch from Mary Washington, Roland Romana from St. Elizabeth and Susquehanna's Matt LaCorte. Danny Frauenheim from Susquehanna was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Susquehanna went ahead 13-5 early in the game before the Diplomats answered with a 13-2 run and took an 18-16 lead on an Ignas Slyka layup at 9:33. Two ties and two lead changes ensued over the next two minutes with the game tied at 20-20 at 8:06. The Crusaders strung together a 10-4 spurt to go out front by six, 30-24, but the Diplomats made another run to cut the deficit to two, 33-31, at 3:19. Susquehanna managed to say a bucket ahead and outscored F&M 8-6 the final three minutes to go into the break with a 41-37 lead.
The Diplomats came within two twice in the opening three minutes of the second half, but Susquehanna went on a 10-2 run over eight minutes and took a 14-point advantage, 64-50, at 9:22. F&M slowly chipped away and a foul shot by Justin Kupa brought F&M within five, 70-65, with a minute left. However, Susquehanna hit 7-of-8 from the stripe in the final minute to secure win.
Justin Kupa finished with a season-high 26 points, shooting 9-for-15 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Ignas Slyka netted 11 with six assists and five boards and Matt Redhead was 3-for-3 from the floor and 4-for-5 from the stripe to end with 10 points.
F&M outshot Susquehanna 55%-53%, but the Crusaders held a slight 28-23 edge on the glass.
The Diplomats return to action on Saturday when F&M hosts Neumann at 3:00 p.m.