COLCHESTER, Vt. - Five players scored in double figures, and the Saint Michael's College men's basketball team downed Pace University, 81-73, on Tuesday evening in Northeast-10 Conference play at the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights won their third straight against the Setters, improving to 2-1 in their last three home games, while pushing their overall mark to 3-12, including 1-9 in the league. Pace is 7-10 and 4-5.
Saint Michael's, which opened a five-game stretch during which four contests occur at home, took on a team that was tied for third in the NE-10 Southwest Division after opposing second-place Adelphi University on Saturday and first-place Southern Connecticut State University last Wednesday. The Purple Knights shot 47.4 percent overall, including 9-of-21 from three-point range, while connecting on 18-of-25 at the charity stripe. A season-high-tying 18 of their 27 baskets were assisted.
The Purple and Gold was led by junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) and his Division II-leading 11th double-double of the year, a 21-point, 15-rebound performance. Bonds, who snagged five offensive boards, shot 7-of-12 from the floor and 7-of-8 on free throws while pushing his career rebound total to 641, passing Tom Hoey '79 (629) and Bob Kryger '78 (629) to take over 19th in school annals. Junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) had career highs of 18 points and seven assists while adding two steals and shooting 3-of-4 from three during his 6-of-9 overall effort.
First-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) buried four three-pointers in seven attempts en route to 14 points, senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) tallied 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting and a 6-of-6 free throw showing with seven rebounds, and classmate Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. With his 142nd career triple, Grippo tied Ben Smith '04 for 11th in school history. Senior Will Davis (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross) handed out four assists, and first-year Winston Jones II (Valley Stream, N.Y./Valley Stream Centerl) nabbed five boards.
First-year Ryan Peterson posted 27 points to lead Pace, shooting 5-of-11 from deep while also snaring eight rebounds, and senior Shelton Mickell had 20 points. Sophomore Bryan Rivers scored 13 points.
Gaskins' four-point possession to begin the second half - a fastbreak lay-up off Williams' half-court pass before two free throws on an intentional foul - snapped a 37-all tie and put Saint Michael's in front for good. Williams scored the next five points during the period-opening 10-2 run before Peterson and Mickell nailed consecutive triples, drawing Pace within 47-45 at 16:21. However, Williams scored the next five points, as he had a role in 13 of the Purple Knights' first 14 points in the final period, and the visitors never trailed by fewer than four.
The closest the Setters came in the late stages was 58-54 after Rivers hit a pair of freebies at 9:03, but Jones responded with a lay-in off a Holmes feed nine seconds later, sparking an 11-2 run during which the final seven points came on free throws. Pearson hit a trey at 46 seconds to trim the Pace deficit to 79-71, but Grippo's ensuing two freebies countered Mickell's closing hoop with 16 seconds left.
The Purple Knights pushed out to a 12-2 advantage by the time 5:15 had elapsed in the opening half, as Holmes buried a pair of threes and Williams knocked down a jumper while dishing off a pair of assists. However, Peterson canned three threes in a matter of 3:03, and Pace's 12-2 response created the first of eight ties in the stanza.
Neither team led by more than three points during the remainder of the half, as Saint Michael's forged ahead by three on three occasions, all when Purple Knights hit triples, while the Setters' largest advantage came when Mickell went on a personal 5-0 run to make it 31-28 at 3:47. Davis and Holmes nailed back-to-back threes to put the hosts back up three, but Rivers' triple in the final 10 seconds sent the teams into the locker room tied at 37.
The hosts shot 50.0 percent in the opening 20 minutes, including 7-for-14 from beyond the arc, while committing just six turnovers to Pace's zero giveaways. Saint Michael's also held a 20-13 rebounding advantage.
The Purple Knights rest until hosting Le Moyne College next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.