BROOKLYN, NY – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team battled back from a nine point second half deficit to tie the game with 2:17 remaining but could not close the deal, falling to St. Francis Brooklyn, 74-71, Saturday evening at the Pope Physical Education Center. The Pioneers fall to 4-15 on the season, 1-3 in the NEC.
Chris Evans (Stamford, CT) poured in a team-high 14 points to go along with six rebounds. Senior forward Mostafa Abdel Latif (Alexandria, Egypt) and Steve Glowiak (New Britain, CT) both chipped in with 13 points.
Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, CT) dished out a season-high 12 assists.
Ben Mockford led the way for St. Francis Brooklyn, knocking down 7-of-8 from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 23 points. Terrers' leading-scorer, Jalen Cannon, scored 16 points, with 14 coming in the second half.
It was a back and forth first half with the lead changing hands 16 times in the first 20 minutes. The Pioneers and Terriers matched each other made shot for made shot. Sacred Heart began the game hitting 8 of their first 13 shots., while Saint Francis finished the first half 16-of-31 from the floor.
Ben Mockford knocked down six first half three-pointers for Saint Francis, while Glowiak and Gaetano combined for five long balls of their own for SHU.
Gaetano netted his first three-pointer of the half from NBA range with the foul. Gaetano converted the free throw to give SHU a 12-11 lead with 15:53 remaining in the opening half.
Glowiak and Mockford each drilled back-to-back three-balls on four consecutive possessions as SHU led 23-22 with 12:02 left.
Abdel Latif got into the action with back-to-back lay-ups to pull SHU within four, 35-31 with 3:24 left in the first.
With under a minute left in the first, Mockford and Glowiak again exchanged three-pointers as SFBK pushed ahead 40-38 with 52 seconds left in the first. In a fitting end to an exciting first half, Gaetano swished his second from long range with three seconds left as St. Francis Brooklyn led 42-41 at the break.
The Pioneers missed more free throws (five) than three-pointers in the first half but still trailed St. Francis at the break.
The second half began much like the first with both teams getting up and down and making shots. Freshman De'Von Barnett (Waldorf, MD) got the Pioneers going with a lay-in to start the second half.
In a game that was close throughout, it was a couple of mini runs in the second half that created a dramatic finish.
Saint Francis went on a 10-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 58-49 with 13:22 remaining. On Sacred Heart's next possession, sophomore Tevin Falzon (Newton, MA) made a nice move to the rim and finished with a beautiful finger roll. Falzon's lay-in ignited a quick 8-1 run that pulled SHU within two, 59-57.
Mockford made his lone two-pointer of the afternoon to put the Terriers back up five with 6:30 remaining.
After a slow and steady climb, Sacred Heart finally tied the game at 68 on a Cole Walton (Bellevue, WA) lay-in with 2:17 left in the game. After not playing in the last game, Walton scored a career-high eight points for SHU.
The Pioneers' game-tying momentum was short-lived however as Mockford drilled his 7th long ball of the game on St. Francis' next possession putting Saint Francis back up three with 1:45 left in the game.
Louis Montes had a pretty good look from three-point range to give the Pioneers a one point lead with 47 seconds left but it would not fall and the Terriers hauled in the rebound.
Walton again put in a lay-in with four seconds left to pull SHU within two points.
After Brent Jones made just one of two free throws, the Pioneers had one last shot with to tie the game with 1.9 seconds left but a Gaetano attempt from half-court fell short and Saint Francis escaped with the victory.
Sacred Heart is back in action next weekend as they travel to Pennsylvania to take on Robert Morris and Saint Francis University.
Notes: Phil Gaetano has a made a three-pointer in nine consecutive games. SHU is 4-10 after losses this season.