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Salem-Teikyo opens East Regional tonight

by Anthony Hanshew

SPORTS EDITOR

Having beaten up on each other for the better part of the season, Salem-Teikyo, Charleston and Fairmont State are more than familiar with each other.

But what about the other half of the NCAA Division II East Regional field?

Two, Pfeiffer (N.C.) University and St. Andrews (N.C.) College, are from the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference. The other, Indiana (Pa.) hails from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Collectively, they enter as underdogs as the East Regional tournament gets under way today at the University of Charleston's Eddie King Gym. No. 3 seed Salem-Teikyo (27-3) and No. 6 seed St. Andrews (15-14) tip off the three-day tournament at 6 p.m., followed by No. 4 Fairmont State (25-3) against Indiana (22-7) at 8.

St. Andrews is the decided underdog. It slipped into the East Regional by shocking Pfeiffer, 82-81, for the CVAC tournament championship and automatic berth.

The upset loss ended an unprecedented league run for Pfeiffer. The Falcons, who qualified for three straight East Regionals from 1994-96, became the first team in conference history to finish the regular season with an unbeaten league record.

Pfeiffer reached the tournament final with a victory over bitter rival and defending champion Queens, which had eliminated the Falcons the past three seasons.

"That was a terrific win for us," Pfieffer coach Dave Davis said. "We had used the Queens loss (in '99) as motivator all season. That was such an emotional high, but that being said, St. Andrews played awesome."

St. Andrews drilled 12 of 19 3-pointers against Pfieffer and might need a similar effort tonight. Salem-Teikyo swept through the East Regional en route to the Elite Eight last year and has spent much of this season ranked No. 1.

The Tigers will, however, be without Charles Dinkins, who is serving a one-game suspension for being involved in an altercation at last year's Elite Eight. Should Salem-Teikyo advance past St. Andrews, Davis said his team will face a tall task.

"(S-TU) is going to be incredibly bigger than we are," Davis said. "We have two players who are 6-foot-6, so we're very guard-oriented. I don't know a lot about Salem, but I know they have one 6-9 huge inside kid (Ed Jenkins) and they cause major matchup problems for us."

Indiana also would have trouble sizing up with S-TU, but tonight it appears to match up well with Fairmont State.

"I think we're fairly similar teams," Indiana coach Gary Edwards said. "Our inside guys are little and undersized but powerful yet they can step out and hit shots."

Fans making the two-hour trek to Charleston likely will see two very different games. The opener promises to be a track meet with 3-point shooting at a premium. The nightcap perhaps will lacking fast break flare.

"It's a good matchup for both of us," Edwards said. "I think Fairmont's gotten here on defense and I know we've gotten here with defense."

The FSC-Indiana winner faces No. 1 seed Charleston at 6 p.m. Friday. The S-TU-St. Andrews winner faces Pfieffer at 8. The regional championship game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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