COLCHESTER, Vt. - A furious comeback effort keyed by the Saint Michael's College men's basketball reserves fell just short on Tuesday evening as the Purple Knights lost a 72-66 decision to the University of New Haven in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple and Gold is now 5-10 overall and 2-8 in the Northeast-10 Conference after whittling a 27-point deficit to four points late in the game, while the Chargers improved to 8-6 and 5-4. Saint Michael's lost for only the second time in six games, while each of the last 11 regular-season meetings between the two teams has been decided by 10 points or less.
Sophomore Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) led the bench players with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting with two offensive rebounds in 13 minutes, while first-year Jason Heter (Andover, N.J./Newton) scored four points and snagged eight boards, including three offensive, in eight minutes. Redshirt sophomore Stan Foster (Rochester, N.Y./Avon Old Farms School) collected seven points, four rebounds, three offensive boards and two assists, while junior transfer Jaylen Hall (Chicago, Ill./Lincoln Park/Richard J. Daley) posted five points, a rebound and a steal in five minutes.
Junior Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) scored a team-high 12 points with two assists and two steals, while sophomore Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) had a well-rounded eight points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Junior Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) also contributed eight points and five boards, while sophomore Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian) had two steals. Holmes pushed his career point total to 993 in his 66th game and, with 162 three-pointers, is two shy of the program's top 10.
Senior Danny Upchurch recorded 22 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals for New Haven, which improved to 7-2 away from home. Sophomore Roy Kane Jr. added 10 points off the bench, while four different Chargers scored eight points. Junior Najee Larcher was among them, and also hauled in seven rebounds.
New Haven scored the first six points and led by eight before Holmes buried a three at 13:42 of the opening half to make it 13-8. Twelve of the next 13 points came from Chargers, who eventually led 36-18 on Upchurch's trey with 3:11 to go. Holmes' lay-up with 16 seconds to go brought Saint Michael's within 40-26 at halftime.
Cheatom knocked down a three 34 seconds into the second stanza to trim the deficit to 11, and the hosts were still down just 48-35 on Holmes' jumper at 17:21 before New Haven scored the next 13 points in a matter of 3:17 to double its lead, eventually extending the advantage to 66-39 with 9:31 remaining on Upchurch's jumper.
With the Purple Knight reserves now gaining most of the playing time against Charger regulars, the hosts responded with a 24-2 run during a 7:44 stretch, as Saint Michael's held the visitors to 1-for-10 shooting with six turnovers during the final nine-plus minutes. Heter and Holmes split the first eight points to make it 66-45 before senior Mihailo Vasic's lay-up pushed the lead back to 23, but the next 18 points came from Purple Knights.
First-year Walker Storey (Shelburne, Vt./Champlain Valley Union) hit a three and sophomore Stephen Laffin (West Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) stole the ball under the New Haven hoop before going in for a lefty lay-up to kick off the run, and Hall buried a three at the end of the shot clock before picking off a pass at midcourt and going in for a breakaway lay-up on the next possession to make it 68-60 at 2:15. Foster's tip-in and free throw at 30 seconds produced a five-point margin before Upchurch hit two freebies at 27.0, but Jackson's second-effort three-pointer at 10.2 cut the hole to 70-66. After Upchurch hit two more from the charity stripe with nine seconds left, the Purple Knights missed three shots on their final possession, which was prolonged by Foster and Heter both grabbing offensive rebounds.
The Purple Knights head to Adelphi University on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.