Men's basketball wipes out late eight-point deficit before falling to AIC, 69-66

Men's basketball wipes out late eight-point deficit before falling to AIC, 69-66

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team wiped out an eight-point deficit in the final 1:18 on Saturday before yielding the winning three-pointer with 7.2 seconds remaining in a 69-66 loss to American International College in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights are now 4-15 overall and 2-12 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Yellow Jackets moved to 8-12 and 4-10. This was the teams' eighth consecutive meeting decided by eight points or fewer, and the 11th in a row in the Ross determined by 10 or less.

Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) collected a game- and career-high 24 points for Saint Michael's, including 19 in the first half, while shooting 6-of-13 from three-point range to tie a personal best for triples. Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) had 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals, nearly posting his 15th double-double of the year. He entered the day tied for first in the category across Division II. Bonds pushed his boards total to 686 for his career, passing Ted Mauro '78 (679) for 16th in program history.

Junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) added seven points, first-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) totaled six points, seven boards, three assists and two steals, and senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) pulled six rebounds.

Senior Trahmier Burrell and first-year Jayvon Pitts-Young both had 12 points and six rebounds for AIC, while junior Juwan Moody also had 12 points. First-year Bruce Spruell notched nine points, seven assists and four steals, while senior Oscar Assie collected 10 rebounds.

After leading by as many as 13 points in the second half, Saint Michael's trailed 66-58 with less than 90 seconds remaining. However, Grippo buried a three at 1:18 before Holmes stole the inbounds pass along the baseline, flipping a pass into the paint for Bonds, who scored against contact at 1:06 while being fouled. He finished the three-point play to cut the deficit to 66-64. AIC committed a travel on the next possession, and Bonds drew defenders in the paint before dishing to first-year Winston Jones II (Valley Stream, N.Y./Valley Stream Central) for the tying lay-in at 35.3 seconds. Despite a well-defended next possession by the hosts, Pitts-Young hit a trey from the left wing at 7.2 seconds, and a contested three from the top of the key by the hosts at the buzzer fell short.

Grippo scored 10 points to give the Purple Knights a 14-5 lead just 5:08 after the opening tip, but AIC needed only 1:48 to net nine straight and knot the contest. Grippo and sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) responded with back-to-back threes to give Saint Michael's a 20-14 edge, but Burrell made consecutive baskets to cap a go-ahead 7-0 run for AIC. Grippo connected on a pair of long-range shots 29 seconds apart to put the Purple Knights back in front at 26-21 with 7:43 left in the opening half. That sparked a 20-6 run that spanned halftime, with Bonds scoring eight, and the hosts led 40-27 at 18:56 of the final stanza.

A 14-2 run brought the Yellow Jackets within a point, as Moody canned two threes, and AIC went back ahead on junior Justin Daniel's dunk with 9:40 to go. Grippo responded with a baseline jumper, but Daniel hit a three on the next possession to make it 54-52 in the visitors' favor with 9:20 remaining, kicking off a 7-0 stretch. The Yellow Jackets led by as many as eight points before Saint Michael's began its comeback.

Saint Michael's heads to Merrimack College on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. contest.