Men's basketball remains close before Franklin Pierce pulls away in NE-10 play

Men's basketball remains close before Franklin Pierce pulls away in NE-10 play

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team saw a two-point deficit with less than six minutes remaining expand to double figures during a 90-74 loss to Franklin Pierce University on Tuesday evening in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights moved to 5-17 overall and 3-14 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Ravens improved to 13-9 and 10-7.

First-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) matched a career high with 21 points for the hosts, shooting 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-for-6 on free throws, while junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) collected his 16th double-double of the season behind 16 points and 13 rebounds, tossing in six offensive boards, a team-high four assists and a pair of blocks. Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) scored 15 points behind three three-pointers while snagging two steals, and classmate Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) had 10 points.

During the contest, Grippo pushed his career threes total to 162, passing Dom Ditlefsen '15 (160) for 10th in program history while coming within two of Corey Crawford II '15 (164) for ninth. Bonds remained second in Division II with his 16 double-doubles, which are one shy of Michel Bonebo's '90 1989-90 school record. He now has 728 career boards, passing Steve Bourke '83 (727) to take over 12th in school annals. Brian Pannuzzo '99 is next on the list, occupying 11th with 730 caroms.

Junior Matt Banton led Franklin Pierce with 22 points off the bench, canning four threes, and classmate Donte Gittens had 15 points and nine assists versus one turnover. Sophomore Asante Sandiford shot 6-of-6 for 15 points, and classmate Mike McDevitt added 14 points.

After Bonds dropped home the first bucket of the game, the Ravens went on a 15-3 run to open a 10-point lead 4:32 into the contest, with Sandiford scoring seven points and dishing on a three-pointer. Junior David Sullivan's (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) three points keyed the Purple Knights' rally to within 15-10, but Banton buried two triples 27 seconds apart to help the Ravens pull ahead 23-12 with 12:05 left.

Saint Michael's pushed back into the lead on the strength of a 19-4 run over a 6:56 stretch, as Holmes scored 10 points himself. His lay-in put the visitors up 26-25, and Grippo nailed a three to make it 31-27. Sophomore Colin Richey's (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) lay-up kept the Purple Knights up by four, at 33-29, before three Ravens hit treys in a 9-3 response. Holmes' hoop in the final 10 seconds allowed the hosts to cut their deficit to 40-39 by halftime.

During a second half that featured eight lead changes - including five in the opening 1:44 alone - and five ties, neither team led by more than two points until McDevitt connected on a three-pointer to snap a 51-all tie with 13:32 to play, but Richey responded in kind 44 seconds later off a Sullivan pass. A Bonds three-point play put Saint Michael's back on top at 57-56 with 12:04 left, but Gittens played a role in five points during an 8-0 run that placed Franklin Pierce in the lead for good. Thanks to a 2:15 span during which Holmes scored seven points, the Purple Knights trailed just 70-68 with 5:51 remaining before the Ravens went on a 16-2 run that stretched into the final minute. The visitors scored 11 of their points from the charity stripe during that time.

The Purple Knights host nationally-ranked Saint Anselm College on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., when they will honor their seniors pregame during their second-to-last home game. The Hawks are 19th in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) national poll.