Men's basketball rallies past 24th-ranked Southern New Hampshire, 84-81

Men's basketball rallies past 24th-ranked Southern New Hampshire, 84-81

COLCHESTER, Vt. - Down three points with a little more than a minute remaining versus the 24th-ranked team in the nation, the Saint Michael's College men's basketball team scored the final six points to overcome Southern New Hampshire University, 84-81, on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights, who had trailed by seven points with fewer than six minutes remaining, moved to 2-2 in their last four games as well as 5-16 overall and 4-12 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Penmen, who led the NE10 Northeast Division and were ranked in this week's D2SIDA National Media Poll, are 16-5 and 12-4.

Senior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) totaled 28 points, 21 rebounds, 12 offensive boards, two assists and two steals in 39 minutes for Saint Michael's, reaching his 15th double-double of the season by halftime. Sophomore Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) came within one point of his career high by netting 17 off the bench, canning three three-pointers to go along with four assists and three steals. Senior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) had 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting.

Sophomore Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) recorded nine points and five assists, senior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) registered six helpers and three steals, while junior Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) came away with a pair of steals while hitting two threes.

Saint Michael's rolled up a 46-32 rebounding advantage, including 20-6 on the offensive glass, while holding leads of 20-4 in second-chance points and 50-34 on paint scoring. The Purple Knights had lost eight of nine to the Penmen, who entered the day winners of three straight, but who are 2-5 in their last seven road contests.

Williams now has 209 career assists despite only two years playing major minutes, moving into 24th in program history while passing Jim Dietz '88 (205) and BJ Robertson '06 (207). Bonds put together his 17th 20-point game of the season while matching Dick Falkenbush '67 for 16th in program history with 1,431 career points. Bonds' third career 20-point/20-rebound game - he was three boards short of his career high - pushed his career caroms total to 1,044, elevating him into a tie for fifth in NE10 history with Jon Cronin (Stonehill College, 1988-92). During the day, he passed Todd Orlando (1,024, Bentley University, 1980-84), Brian Robinson (1,027, Assumption College, 2001-05) and Scott Schoonmaker (1,034, Assumption, 1982-86).

Redshirt junior Chris Walters shot 12-of-14 on free throws while netting 22 points for the Penmen, who took 29 free throws to the Purple Knights' 16 attempts. Sophomore Daquaise Andrews recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 7-of-10 on freebies, and senior Devin Gilligan had 15 points and five assists.

Saint Michael's trailed 74-67 after Gilligan's lay-up with 5:48 to go and 75-69 following his freebie at 5:05 before Cheatom triggered a quick spurt. His three-pointer at 3:09 made it 77-76, and he drew a charge 32 seconds later then dished to Sullivan for a go-ahead lay-in at 2:22. Walters scored the next four points to put the Penmen ahead 81-78 with 1:18 left, but Bonds found Sullivan for another bucket at 1:05. At 39.5 seconds, the visitors missed two free throws, and Sullivan again came through with the go-ahead hoop, taking Holmes' back-door feed at 15.6 ticks. After Southern New Hampshire called a timeout with seven seconds to go, Bonds stripped Gilligan as he went into his shooting motion, grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with 1.4 ticks left. His ensuing two free throws created the final margin, and a Penman's desperation shot from midcourt at the buzzer hit the side of the backboard.

The Purple Knights utilized a 29-15 rebounding lead in the opening half to take an advantage into the locker room, as they parlayed a 15-2 advantage on the offensive glass to a 14-0 margin in second-chance points. Five ties and five lead changes occurred by the time junior Dimitri Floras buried a trey for the Penmen at 10:54, sparking a 14-4 jolt that gave the visitors a 29-21 lead. After scoring 21 points in the opening 12:40, the Purple and Gold notched that many in the ensuing 6:14, with Bonds punctuating a 21-8 run with a breakaway dunk at 1:05. Cheatom had nine of the Purple Knights' points in that time, including a baseline-drive dunk of his own.

Up 42-37 at halftime, the hosts pushed their lead out to eight points two times in the second stanza, with Cheatom's trey producing a 57-49 edge with 14:56 left in regulation. The next 10 points came from Penmen before Bonds put the Purple Knights back in front with consecutive buckets, but the visitors used an 11-2 run to lead by seven with 7:39 remaining on Gilligan's triple. In the 9:23 that followed Cheatom's three, Bonds produced all 10 of the Saint Michael's points, and the hosts were still down seven heading into the home stretch.

The Purple Knights visit Franklin Pierce University on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.