RINDGE, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team trimmed a 23-point deficit to single digits in the final three minutes before falling at Franklin Pierce University, 86-74, on Wednesday evening in the FPU Fieldhouse. The Purple Knights, who had split their past four games, moved to 5-17 overall and 4-13 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Ravens are 12-11 and 9-8.
Sophomore Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) scored 19 points, shooting 6-of-6 on free throws while knocking down three three-pointers. Senior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) shot 3-of-5 from three and 4-of-4 on freebies for 15 points while tacking on three assists, and classmate Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) turned in his 16th double-double of the year with 14 points, 10 rebounds, five offensive boards, four steals and two assists. Senior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) and first-year Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) had nine points apiece, with Sullivan 5-of-6 on free throws with two assists, and Jackson dishing off three helpers.
Bonds surpassed James Sorrentine '08 (1,433) for 15th in program history in scoring, with 1,445 points, while breaking a tie for fifth in NE10 history in rebounds (1,054) after previously sharing the spot with Stonehill College's Jon Cronin.
Junior Mike McDevitt scored 21 points for Franklin Pierce while adding 11 rebounds, and senior Donte Gittens had 20 points, eight boards and five assists. Two others reached double figures.
Franklin Pierce used a 16-3 run to forge ahead 18-5 on junior Dustin Cole's jumper at 12:54 of the opening half before sophomore Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) hit a three and Jackson converted a three-point play to draw their team within seven. However, a 19-6 Raven run ensued, and the hosts led 37-17 with 2:16 remaining on a Gittens dunk. Holmes hit a pair of free throws at 1:31 before Jackson buried a trey with 28 seconds to go, and the visitors trailed 37-22 at halftime.
After totaling 22 points in the opening 20 minutes, the Purple Knights exceeded that in the first 10:35 of the second period. Sullivan's three-point play was followed by a Holmes three at 18:19, cutting the deficit to 39-28, and Williams' three made it a 10-point game. Senior Marvilio Berroa scored the next five points, and McDevitt's lay-up later pushed the lead to 64-41 with 9:54 remaining. Still down 23, Saint Michael's rallied to within nine points in the latter stages, forging a 27-4 run over a 4:31 span to cut the deficit to 10.
Nine points came from Bonds and five from Williams. During one 52-second juncture, which Saint Michael's entered down 70-53, Bonds nabbed an offensive rebound and hit one free throw before coming up with lay-ups on each of the next two possessions, setting one up with a steal. Sullivan's three-point play made it 70-60 at 4:54. Four straight points pushed the Raven lead to 14, but a 7-2 stretch - keyed by a triple from Williams and a three-point play by Holmes - cut the hole to 76-67 with 2:46 to go. However, the visitors came no closer than nine points down the stretch, as Franklin Pierce pushed its lead to as many as 13 points.
The Purple Knights visit Saint Anselm College on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. contest. The Hawks are ranked 10th in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.