For the second year in a row, the McDaniel men's basketball team skidded into the playoffs.
Last year, it didn't matter too much. The Green Terror got to host the play-in game for the Centennial Conference tournament and earned their first playoff win in 53 years by topping Muhlenberg.
But this season, a three-game losing streak to end the regular season cost McDaniel the opportunity to bring the play-in game back to Gill Center. And instead, for the second time in five days, the Terror must travel up Md. 97 to play Gettysburg.
"It's not that long of a trip, but obviously it would be nice to play at home for these guys," McDaniel coach Kevin Curley said. "But at the same time, we're in the playoffs, that's the hand we're dealt, and we've just got to be ready to go."
McDaniel (14-11, 9-9 Centennial) has had several glaring weaknesses it has struggled with all season. One is free-throw shooting. In Saturday's 60-52 loss to the Bullets, the Green Terror went 12 for 19 (63.2 percent) at the line.
That was actually better than their season average. McDaniel ranks 408th out of 410 teams in NCAA Division III in free-throw shooting with a 58.4 percentage.
The other big struggle for the Green Terror has been their lack of size. But they have been able to counter that with their deep rotation of guards, using their athleticism to beat teams.
Not to mention, center Tim Stewart has had a breakout season and been a constant force for McDaniel down low. He is averaging 15.6 points per game, which ranks fourth in the conference.
In order to avenge a loss to Gettysburg, the Green Terror will need a big game from Stewart — which it did not get on Saturday. The 6-foot-4 junior picked up two fouls within the first three minutes, sat the rest of the first half, and got into more foul trouble in the second half. That limited Stewart to playing just 18 minutes, during which he scored a team-high 11 points.
"He's huge for us," McDaniel guard Wes Brooks said. "When we can't score, he's always there for us. Jack Rauchut stepped up [on Saturday], he played really well. It's just tough to have Stew on the offensive end missing because when we're missing shots, it's hard to get down-low looks."
Meanwhile, Gettysburg (14-11, 10-8) surged into the playoffs with three straight victories, including back-to-back home wins over third-place Franklin & Marshall and the Green Terror.
There is no team in the Centennial Conference with as big a variance between its home and away records than McDaniel. At Gill Center this season, the Terror went 8-2, including a 59-50 win over Gettysburg in January. But in road games, they are just 3-9 and have lost five of their last six.
Even though McDaniel lost to Gettysburg at Bream Gymnasium and it cost the Terror home-court advantage, Brooks doesn't see it as all bad for his squad.
"I came into this game thinking it was like a win-win situation because, now, it's tough to beat a team three times in a row," Brooks said. "This is a 30-minute drive, so it's not like it's a huge advantage for them. We would've liked to have home court because we play well at home, but we're not too disappointed about it because now we can get a revenge game."