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December 30, 2012

21-0 run lifts Purple Knights over Caldwell, Ditlefsen turns in career-high 27 points

COLCHESTER, Vt. - A 21-0 second-half run keyed the Saint Michael's College men's basketball team to an 83-64 comeback victory against Caldwell College on Sunday in the Ross Sports Center. The 4-5 Purple Knights reached a season high in scoring while limiting a 5-9 Cougar squad that averaged 93.0 points in its last three games.

Saint Michael's, which is now 4-0 in the all-time series, received a career-high 27 points from sophomore Dom Ditlefsen (Portland, Ore./Sunset) and a season-best 20 points by first-year Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep). Ditlefsen was 5-of-6 from three-point range and 8-of-8 on free throws while dishing out five assists. Grippo went 6-of-10 from deep, aiding the team's 14-of-27 three-point cause. The Purple Knights shot 52.8 percent overall while also rejecting nine shots and holding the Cougars to 35.6 percent shooting.

Sophomore Corey Crawford II (Dover, Del./The Phelps School) notched 11 points, six rebounds and six assists, and classmate James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla./The Winchendon School) totaled 11 points, six boards and three blocks off the bench. Senior Derek Knutty (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney) and sophomore Mike Thompson (Rosedale, N.Y./Christ The King Regional) each hauled in 11 rebounds, with Knutty adding three assists and two blocks, and Thompson contributing three rejections.

Sophomore Michael Balkovic (Neptune, N.J./Saint John Vianney) had 18 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting for Caldwell, which committed only five turnovers while holding a 25-6 scoring advantage in points off of turnovers. Sophomore Wyatt Polk (Haddonfield, N.J./Haddonfield Memorial) and first-year Brian Kenny (Howell, N.J./Jackson Memorial) each netted 16 points, with Kenny adding five helpers and three steals.

After netting 40 points in the opening 27:16 of the contest, the Purple Knights tallied 43 in the final 12:44. With their team down 46-40 and fewer than 13 minutes remaining in regulation, six Saint Michael's players scored between five and two points during a 21-0 run that produced a 15-point cushion by 7:36. The hosts never again led by fewer than 12, buoyed by going 9-of-15 from three in the final stanza. Ditlefsen had 17 points after halftime.

The teams exchanged the lead five times in the opening 23 minutes, and Caldwell scored 10 straight points to grab a 10-3 advantage by the 15:14 mark of the opening half. However, Cambronne dunked on his team's first two-point attempt of the game, at 14:56, and the hosts wiped out three different seven-point deficits to lead by the latter portion of the stanza. A 21-11 jaunt provided the Purple Knights with a 33-30 lead at 1:58, with Ditlefsen burying two threes in the run, and the hosts extended a 35-32 halftime edge to 38-34 on a Ditlefsen triple 40 seconds into the second half. Five points apiece by Balkovic and Kenny sparked a 12-2 Caldwell stretch that put the visitors in front, 46-40, with 13:42 remaining before the Purple and Gold went on its game-changing run.

The Purple Knights begin a three-game road swing by heading to LIU Post on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

The Edmundite Catholic Liberal Arts College