Men's basketball stages large rally, falls to regionally-ranked Merrimack, 64-60

Men's basketball stages large rally, falls to regionally-ranked Merrimack, 64-60

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team trimmed a 17-point deficit to three in the final minutes but could not overcome regionally-ranked Merrimack College on Wednesday evening, falling 64-60 in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights are 4-16 overall and 3-12 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Warriors are 16-6 and 10-5. Merrimack is sixth in the latest D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.

Senior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) totaled 21 points, nine rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocks while shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 7-for-9 on free throws. Sophomore Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) notched 13 points and five rebounds while burying three three-pointers, and senior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) added 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds, including four offensive. Sophomore Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) collected seven points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench. Senior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) dished off three assists without committing a turnover.

Bonds became the 17th Purple Knight ever with 1,400 career points, pushing his total to 1,403, and notched his 16th 20-point outing of the season, the most by a Saint Michael's player since at least the 1978-79 season. With 1,023 career rebounds, he took over ninth in NE10 history, passing John Tomsich, who played at Le Moyne College between 1995-96 and 1998-99. Tomsich's sister, Becky '02, played basketball at Saint Michael's.

Graduate student Anthony Barry shot 6-of-7 en route to 15 points off the Merrimack bench, first-year Juvaris Hayes had 11 points and nine assists, and junior Kyle Howes tacked on 11 points and eight rebounds.

Six different players scored as the teams exchanged game-opening 6-0 runs, with the visitors grabbing the first lead, and Cheatom's triple later brought Saint Michael's to within 10-9 before the Warriors pulled away with an 18-2 spurt. Five different players scored in the run. Howes' long three just beat the buzzer to send his team into halftime with a 38-23 advantage.

Saint Michael's scored the first seven points of the second half, with Holmes' triple making it 38-30 at 18:15, but Barry extended Merrimack's lead back to 13 at 47-34 by knocking down a three with 14:36 to go. However, another Holmes three later finished off a 7-0 stretch that pulled his team within 50-46 at 8:08, and the Purple Knights ultimately chipped the deficit to three points on four occasions. Each of the first three times, the Warriors scored two points on the next possession, but on the fourth, Holmes rebounded a miss with 46 seconds remaining. Down 63-60, Saint Michael's had a try late in the shot clock miss the rim, and Bonds dove to control a tap back to a teammate as the shot clock expired. Hayes hit one free throw with 10.6 seconds remaining to make it a four-point cushion, and a long three-point attempt by the Purple Knights was off the mark in the final seconds.

The Purple Knights host nationally-ranked Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Penmen are 24th in this week's D2SIDA National Media Poll.