Late surge falls short, men's hoops suffers seventh loss by seven points or less

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team erased a nine-point first-half deficit nearly midway through the second stanza before a late second surge fell short, with the Purple Knights falling, 60-56, to Southern Connecticut State University on Tuesday in the Ross Sports Center. The hosts fell to 4-10 overall and 1-9 in the league, as seven losses have come by seven points or less. The Owls, who have played seven straight games decided by six points or fewer, are now 9-5 and 6-4.

Saint Michael's held the visitors to 17.2 points fewer than their season average, which was good for third in the league, and earned a 42-41 rebounding advantage against the NE-10's top rebounding team. Sophomore Corey Crawford II (Dover, Del./The Phelps School) netted a career-high-tying 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, and classmate Dom Ditlefsen (Portland, Ore./Sunset) knocked down three three-pointers en route to 13 points and six rebounds.

First-year Will Davis (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross) matched his season high with 10 points behind a 7-of-11 effort on free throws, sophomore Mike Thompson (Rosedale, N.Y./Christ The King Regional) approached a double-double with nine points and nine boards, and classmate James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla./The Winchendon School) snagged a career-high 12 rebounds while blocking four shots.

Sophomore Luke Houston (Pearl River, N.Y./Pearl River) led the Owls with 16 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting to go along with four steals, senior Trevon Hamlet (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Loughlin/Post) finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while sophomore Tylon Smith (Manchester, Conn./Kingswood-Oxford) totaled 10 points and 11 boards.

After trailing by as many as nine points in the opening half, the Purple Knights capped a 14-6 run when Ditlefsen scored on a fast break with 12:42 left in the game to knot the score at 39. The Owls scored the next six points before a pair of Davis freebies made it 45-44, but the hosts eventually extended their advantage to as many as nine points on two occasions, including with 1:19 to go. Crawford and Ditlefsen buried one triple apiece around a pair of Hamlet free throws to create a 59-54 margin in the final minute, and a Hamlet free throw was exceeded by a Thompson hoop before the Purple Knights were unable to foul on the final inbound pass.

In the opening stanza, Houston hit a pair of threes in the first 1:52 to make it 6-2 before Ditlefsen twice brought the hosts within one on a three-pointer, including at 9-8, but Houston knocked down another triple to spark a 7-0 run. Crawford twice scored to make it a five-point game before the Owls pushed their lead to nine three times, including at 30-21. However, Crawford hit a leaner in the lane with six seconds to go and make it 30-25 at half.

The Purple Knights head to American International College on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. contest.