Men's basketball rallies from 12 points down, pushes past New Haven, 61-53

Men's basketball rallies from 12 points down, pushes past New Haven, 61-53

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team overcame an early 12-point deficit to push past the University of New Haven, 61-53, on Tuesday evening in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights improved to 4-14 overall and 2-11 in the Northeast-10 Conference, downing the Chargers for the first time since Jan. 19, 2011, having last won at home on Jan. 20, 2010. New Haven is 6-13 and 3-10.

Senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) totaled a career-high 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting for the Purple and Gold, adding eight rebounds, among them five offensive, and two blocks. Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) notched his Division II-leading 14th double-double, totaling 16 points and 15 rebounds, with five coming on the offensive glass. The 14 double-doubles tie Larry Irving '87 for the third-highest total by a Purple Knight since complete rebounding records became available in 1981-82.

Junior point guard Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) also neared a double-double behind eight points and a career-high nine rebounds, while first-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) added nine points - all on a trio of second-half three-pointers - and six boards. In his 100th career game, senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) had six points and five helpers, while classmate Will Davis (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross) added three assists, two steals and a block off the bench.

The Purple and Gold once trailed 23-11 before leading by as many as 12 in the final seven minutes of regulation. The hosts committed only nine turnovers and went to the foul line 13 times, compared to zero for New Haven, while utilizing a 38-14 lead in points in the paint. A 48-33 showing in rebounding included a 14-6 edge on the offensive glass, leading to a 14-5 advantage in second-chance points. During the second half alone, Saint Michael's shot 42.9 percent to the Chargers' 24.2 percent, which included just two two-point makes for the visitors.

Sophomore Tommy Hunt netted 24 points on 6-of-12 three-point shooting for New Haven, with 22 of those points coming in the first half. Redshirt first-year Michael Bourke collected 11 points and six assists as the only other Charger in double figures. Bourke's uncle was Steve Bourke '83, who graduated from Saint Michael's sixth in school history in scoring (1,452). He still occupies 13th on the scoring chart.

Gaskins' fast-break dunk 59 seconds into the second half broke a 31-all tie, but Hunt later capped a 5-0 run to give New Haven a 36-35 edge at 15:13, its final lead of the contest. The Purple Knights responded with the next 12 points in a matter of 2:47, as Bonds' bucket with 14:30 left put his team in front, and Holmes canned a pair of three-pointers during the stretch. Senior Harry Eromosele (Queens, N.Y./CTEA) also knocked down a mid-range jumper in that time, and Bonds finished off the stretch with a lay-in directly off Davis' inbounds pass at 11:43.

Bourke hit a triple to cut the deficit to eight, but that accounted for New Haven's only points during a 9:58 stretch, as Saint Michael's held the visitors to 12 straight misses between Hunt's bucket and Bourke's three. Williams scored in the paint to push the lead back to 10, and Gaskins converted Holmes' pass to make it 51-39 at 6:41. New Haven never came closer than eight points down the stretch, doing so three times, including twice on Bourke treys.

Hunt buried a pair of threes in the opening 58 seconds for the first points of the game, and Saint Michael's faced an 8-2 hole before consecutive Gaskins hoops pulled the hosts within two. Hunt hit two more triples around five Purple Knight points, including four from Bonds, and the Purple and Gold trailed just 14-11 with 12:26 remaining before Hunt had the first seven points of a 9-0 run, and the Chargers forged ahead 23-11 at 9:10.

Bonds and Gaskins were key during an ensuing 14-0 run that took 4:29 to elapse, as each netted seven points, including when Gaskins turned in a go-ahead three-point play at 4:25. That proved to be the first of five lead changes in a 3:05 stretch, with Hunt hitting another triple at 2:09 to give New Haven a 29-28 edge before Grippo responded in kind 48 seconds later. First-year Jacob Pupavac's putback knotted the game with 54 ticks remaining, and the teams headed into halftime tied at 31.

By the intermission, Bonds and Gaskins had combined for 25 of their team's 31 points, shooting 11-of-21 to the remainder of the squad's 2-of-14. Saint Michael's committed only three turnovers in the opening stanza. Meanwhile, Hunt had 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-9 from deep, while his teammates netted nine points on 4-of-15 shooting, going 1-of-10 from beyond the arc.

The Purple Knights hosts American International College on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.