SPARKILL, N.Y. - By netting the final 11 points of the game, the Saint Michael's College men's basketball team completed a comeback from down 24 points early in the second half to take an 84-79 victory against Molloy (N.Y.) College on Sunday during Saint Thomas Aquinas College's Spartan Invitational in Aquinas Hall Gymnasium. The Purple Knights are now 1-1, moving to 6-1 all-time in the series, while the Lions are 0-2.
Saint Michael's junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) posted career highs of 27 points and 22 rebounds - among them 10 offensive - for the most rebounds by a Purple Knight since Brian Monahan '08 had 24 on Jan. 11, 2007. Bonds recorded 20 points and 16 caroms in the second half alone. Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) notched a career-best 21 points with five rebounds and five assists, draining three three-pointers and going 6-of-6 at the charity stripe while also hitting the tie-breaking jumper with 38.6 seconds remaining. The Purple Knights held a 51-35 advantage on the glass while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor.
First-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) turned in a season-best 12 points to go along with five rebounds, while senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) pulled a career-high-tying nine boards. Sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) added eight points and seven helpers off the bench, as he and Holmes hit two three-pointers apiece.
Junior Jaylen Morris notched 22 points and 12 rebounds for Molloy, classmate Charlie Marquardt posted 20 points and three steals, and sophomore Curtis Jenkins totaled 14 points and five steals. Senior Brandon Williams turned in nine points, nine assists and seven boards, and classmate Kevin Bowles had nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
After being down by as many as 24 points during the second stanza, the Purple Knights trailed just 79-73 when Morris hit a free throw with 3:18 remaining. That was the final point for Molloy, whose last bucket came at 5:34 before it missed its final nine field goal attempts. Bonds scored three straight hoops in a 1:26 span to knot the score, with the tying bucket coming courtesy of Grippo's drive and dish.
Gaskins snagged a defensive board with 55 seconds left in a 79-all game, and Bonds passed to the left wing for Grippo, who buried a go-ahead attempt from just inside the three-point line at 38.6 seconds. Holmes drew an offensive foul on the next possession before canning one freebie at 15.0. Molloy had a chance to tie, but Grippo corralled the miss of a three-pointer with 5.4 seconds left and nailed two free throws to ice the comeback victory.
Morris' three-pointer with 14:50 left in the opening half allowed the Lions to open up an 18-2 lead, and Williams' triple 36 seconds later made it a 17-point contest. The next 12 points came from Purple Knights, with Bonds and Holmes each netting five, but Molloy went back up by 12 twice. A 9-0 run made it 30-27 at 7:00, as Grippo scored five points and also dished to sophomore Bruno Beča (Zagreb, Croatia/Westchester Day School) for one of Beča's two buckets in that time. Molloy led by nine, 44-35, at halftime.
The Lions capped a 13-0 run 2:57 into the second half, ultimately extending their advantage to 60-36 at the 16-minute mark. With his team still down by 23, Bonds had a pair of baskets during a 9-0 counter, but Marquardt buried consecutive three-pointers 30 seconds apart to reestablish his team's 20-point advantage at 67-47. Saint Michael's used a 13-2 stretch to trim its deficit to single digits, with Bonds' third two-point bucket in that time producing a 69-60 score at 8:49. With Molloy leading 78-66, Bonds scored four points around a Holmes triple prior to Morris' freebie at 3:18, setting the stage for the Purple Knights' 11-0 finish.
Saint Michael's opens Northeast-10 Conference play on Wednesday at Franklin Pierce University at 7:30 p.m.