NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team hit the road for the first time in more than a month while falling at nationally-regarded Southern Connecticut State University, 100-79, on Wednesday in Moore Field House.
The Purple Knights are 2-11 overall and 0-8 in the Northeast-10 Conference, having taken to the road for the first time since Dec. 5, while the Owls are 11-3 and 6-1. The hosts, who also downed Saint Michael's on Dec. 10, received votes toward this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) national poll and are fifth in the latest D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.
The visitors had a balanced scoring effort, with five players in double figures and another one basket away. Senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) notched 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, while junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) and sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) both turned in 12 points. Richey matched a career high during his 5-of-7 day, and Williams went 4-of-7 to come within two of his personal best in scoring.
Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) turned in 11 points and six rebounds, first-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) contributed 10 points, six assists and four boards, while junior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) had eight points and three helpers, shooting 4-of-4 at the charity stripe. Saint Michael's shot 48.3 percent while assisting 17 of its 28 baskets. The Purple Knights played their ninth game in a 10-game stretch that includes four foes either nationally ranked or receiving votes, and another four opponents that are regionally ranked.
Southern Connecticut State, which leads the NE-10 Southwest Division and advanced to the 2014 NCAA Elite Eight and 2015 Sweet 16, received 22 points from junior Michael Mallory, who added seven assists and three steals. Senior Desmond Williams notched 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, while classmate Jack McCarthy shot 7-of-7 for 14 points. Junior Austin Carter went 6-of-8 with 13 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks off the bench, while first-year Joey Wallace totaled 12 points, seven rebounds and six helpers.
Bonds had the Purple Knights' first five points, and the hosts led 5-2 by 17:37 of the first half. The Owls later countered with a 10-2 run, taking a 14-9 edge on Mallory's triple at 13:37, before Richey's trey cut the deficit to 18-16. Carter scored seven points during a 12-4 run, stretching the hosts' lead to 30-20 by 7:54, but Saint Michael's chipped away to make it 34-29 on Williams' three-pointer with 5:23 to go. However, Mallory scored half of his team's points during a 10-2 counter, and the visitors never again trailed by single digits.
After being down 49-38 at halftime, the Purple Knights cut their deficit to 10 on Gaskins' three-point play 48 seconds into the second stanza, but an 11-2 run by the Owls gave them a 19-point advantage. Saint Michael's came as close as 16 points twice during the second half, on Williams' free throws at 15:35 and thanks to Sullivan's lay-in creating a 64-48 score with 14:31 to go.
Saint Michael's heads to regionally-ranked Adelphi University on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. contest. The Panthers are seventh in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.