COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team trailed regionally-ranked Stonehill College by single digits with fewer than five minutes remaining before falling by an 84-71 count on Tuesday evening during its season finale in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights ended the year 7-19 overall and 5-16 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Skyhawks are 20-7 and 15-6. Stonehill was fourth in the latest NCAA East Region rankings.
Saint Michael's ended the year a shade under .500, at 5-7, following a 2-12 start. Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) turned in his 19th double-double with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 16 rebounds, among them five offensive. Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) also notched 16 points while hitting three three-pointers, and sophomore reserve Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) totaled 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five assists in 15 minutes. Senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) pulled eight boards in his final collegiate appearance, and junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) dished off four assists.
Seniors Pierce Cumpstone and Carter Smith both had 24 points for Stonehill. Smith went 11-of-12 on free throws while knocking down three threes and notching three steals, and Cumpstone went 10-of-15, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, and hauled in nine rebounds while blocking two shots. Senior Adam Bramanti went 3-of-5 on threes and 8-of-8 on freebies en route to 17 points, five assists and three steals, and sophomore Isaiah Bess totaled 13 points and four helpers. Junior Ryan Logan nabbed eight boards. The Skyhawks committed only nine turnovers while shooting 24-of-31 on free throws to the Purple Knights' 5-of-8 showing.
Consecutive Bonds lay-ins had the Purple Knights ahead 6-2 4:06 into the contest, and Grippo's three-pointer pushed the lead to 9-4 at the 14:38 mark of the first half. After being held to four points over the opening 6:18, Stonehill scored five in the ensuing 1:05 to knot the contest, but Bonds hit a jumper before junior David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep) blocked the next Skyhawk shot and dropped home a reverse lay-up at 11:49 to make it 13-9.
During the remainder of the half, the teams played through five ties and seven lead changes, with three swaps occurring in one 31-second stretch, when Cumpstone and Bess both hit threes and senior Harry Eromosele (Queens, N.Y./CTEA) had a putback for the Purple Knights. Williams' three from the corner off senior Will Davis' (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross) kick put the hosts ahead 22-21 with 5:56 to go before Smith wrapped a pair of go-ahead threes around Gaskins' tying lay-in. First-year Levi Holmes III's (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) triple put Saint Michael's up 30-29 before Smith made three free throws and Cumpstone a lay-in with 55 seconds remaining. Grippo was fouled while shooting a three at 38.0 seconds and made all three freebies, but Bess knocked down a three at the end of the shot clock to extend the lead with nine ticks left. Stonehill led 37-33 at halftime.
After Smith's pair of free throws pushed the Skyhawk edge to 47-38, Richey played a role in every point of a 12-5 run, scoring 10 and assisting Gaskins during a 3:01 stretch, trimming the deficit to 52-50. Bess and Smith split the next six points to reestablish an eight-point edge, but Gaskins hit a free throw and Holmes made a lay-up to cut the hole back to 58-53 with 9:14 to play. Stonehill began pulling away behind a 16-6 run, going 6-of-6 on free throws in that time. Bonds' tip-in at 4:27 had Saint Michael's within 68-59, but Bramanti hit a step-back triple 19 seconds later and canned another three to cap the run at 3:23, making it 74-59. Stonehill's lead never slipped back to single digits, as the visitors went 10-for-12 at the charity stripe during the final 2:10.
Behind 58 three-pointers this year, the 17th-highest showing in school annals, Grippo finished his career ninth in program history with 169 career threes. Holmes knocked down 51 treys, the fourth-best showing ever by a Purple Knight rookie. Bonds' 19 double-doubles - the most by a Purple Knight since complete rebounding figures became available in 1981-82 - place him second in Division II, as he also entered the night second in the nation in rebounding and offensive rebounding. One of seven Purple Knights with 400 points and 300 rebounds in a season, his 27 career double-doubles tie for the most in the program since 1981-82. Bonds placed 10th in school history with 320 boards this winter, the most since Ken Johnson '76 (346) in 1975-76, and he also passed Peter Cragan '70 (769) to take over 10th in program history with 780 career caroms. Bonds enters his senior year with 959 points.