Men's basketball wipes out 17-point deficit, loses late at Franklin Pierce, 77-74

Men's basketball wipes out 17-point deficit, loses late at Franklin Pierce, 77-74

RINDGE, N.H. - After erasing a 17-point deficit in the second half, the Saint Michael's College men's basketball team yielded a tie-breaking three-pointer with 1:10 remaining and missed two tying attempts in the last minute of a 77-74 loss at Franklin Pierce University on Wednesday evening in FPU Fieldhouse. During both teams' Northeast-10 Conference opener, the Purple Knights slipped to 1-2, while the Ravens are 2-1.

Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) set a career high for the second straight game, with 22 points, including 19 in the second half, behind 5-of-11 three-point shooting while adding four assists. Classmate Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) also notched a career-best 16 points with a career-high-tying nine rebounds, shooting 8-of-13 along the way. Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) had 11 points and eight rebounds, becoming the 36th Purple Knight with 500 career rebounds (501).

First-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) shot 4-of-5 for 10 points off the bench, junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) and sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) both handed out a career-high six assists, and senior Harry Eromosele (Queens, N.Y./CTEA) recorded seven points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.

Sophomore Mike McDevitt notched 18 points and three blocks for Franklin Pierce, shooting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, while junior Donte Gittens totaled 17 points and six helpers. Senior Tyler Iacuone and sophomore Asante Sandiford both added 13 points, with Iacuone contributing five assists.

In a 74-all contest, Gittens hit a go-ahead three with 1:10 left in regulation, and the Purple Knights corralled the miss of a tying three-point attempt at 49 seconds before immediately turning the ball over. The Ravens fired off another trey try with fewer than 20 seconds to go, which Gaskins snagged to give Saint Michael's one final possession. With the ball in the far corner, a visitor tried another tying triple with two seconds left, and the Purple Knights could not get off another attempt after grabbing the offensive board.

The squads exchanged three leads in the opening 3:05, with Iacuone's three-pointer at 16:17 of the first half eventually giving Franklin Pierce a 12-8 edge. After back-to-back hoops by Holmes and Gaskins knotted the contest, Sandiford hit his team's fifth triple to make it 15-12 at 13:16. Bonds knocked down a free throw to bring his team within two points, and Saint Michael's still trailed just 19-15 on Eromosele's lay-in with 10:40 to go before Ravens scored the next 13 points. Gittens scored seven of the points, and the hosts led 32-15 at 4:23.

Holmes canned consecutive triples 36 seconds apart to cut his team's deficit to 10 with 1:01 left, but two threes by the hosts in a matter of 21 seconds followed. Grippo knocked down a three in the waning seconds, and the visitors went into the locker room trailing by a 42-29 count.

Grippo's hand stayed hot in the second half, as he netted 14 points during a 25-12 run that bridged halftime and eventually knotted the contest. Sandiford's lay-up still had his team up 48-38 at 17:18 of the second stanza, but Grippo drained a three, junior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) hit a pair of freebies, and Williams converted a three-point play to draw Saint Michael's within 48-46 by 15:57.

McDevitt scored six points around a triple by Grippo and a hoop by Eromosele, but Richey's three at 14:23 off a Grippo dish tied the teams at 54. McDevitt hit a pair of treys during his team's 10-0 response, but the Purple Knights countered with a 10-0 run of their own, with Bonds scoring the final six points. Gittens' dunk broke a 66-all tie, and senior Jacob Jacquo's three pushed the Raven edge to 74-69 with 3:16 remaining, but Grippo knocked down a three before Bonds drove for a tying lay-in at 2:05.

The Purple Knights host Assumption College on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for their home opener. Former Saint Michael's head coach Michael Harding is in his first season as head coach of the Greyhounds.