When and Where: January 7, 2017 – Springfield, Mass. (Butova Gymnasium)
Score: Southern New Hampshire University 79, American International College 72
Records: SNHU 11-2 (7-2 NE10), AIC 7-9 (1-7 NE10)
Senior Devin Gilligan (Amherst, N.H.) and redshirt-junior Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.) submitted monster performances to guide the Southern New Hampshire University men's basketball team to Sunday afternoon's 79-72 victory against American International College at Butova Gymnasium.
Gilligan scored a game-high 19 points (8-17 FG, 3-7 FT), grabbed a career-best 15 rebounds and handed out three assists, while Walters poured in 16 points (4-12 FG, 1-4 3-FG, 7-8) and reached career highs in both rebounds (17) and blocks (7), while dishing a trio of helpers. Junior Dimitri Floras (Merrimack, N.H.) netted 17 points (6-13 FG, 5-6 FT).
Bruce Spruell led the Yellow Jackets with 18 points and 10 boards.
Southern New Hampshire scored the first five points of the game before an 8-2 counter-run gave American International an 8-7 lead just over three minutes into the game. The teams traded the lead twice before back-to-back Gilligan baskets staked SNHU to a three-point lead. Spruell answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 13-13 with 14:09 remaining in the opening half.
With the Penmen leading by one, a trey from senior Jerome Harris (Hartford, Conn.) extended the lead to four, but four straight points from Tahlib Swan left the game tied at 23-all with 7:22 to go. With the score still tied, 3-pointers from Walters and sophomore Jon Martin (Manchester, N.H.) bookended an 8-2 flurry that stretched the Southern New Hampshire advantage to 33-27 at the 4:00 mark.
AIC would trim its deficit to a single point, but a 5-0 spurt – capped with a 3-pointer from freshman Ryogo Sumino (Kanagawa, Japan) – ran the lead back to six and the Penmen would eventually carry a 41-35 advantage into the locker room.
The teams traded 5-0 runs – sandwiched around a 4-0 spurt for SNHU – over the opening four minutes to leave the game tied at 47. Seven ties and five lead changes ensued over the next nine-plus minutes before a three-point play from sophomore Daquaise Andrews (Queens, N.Y.) gave the Penmen the lead for good at 67-64 with 6:40 to play.
With the gap at two four minutes later, baskets from Gilligan and Andrews nudged the lead to six at 75-69 with 2:18 remaining. A pair of free throws from Walters nearly two minutes later extended the run to 6-0 and all but sealed the win.
Andrews tallied nine points (2-7 FG, 5-6 FT), five rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Martin also scored a career-high nine points (3-4 FG, 1-2 3-FG, 2-2 FT). Harris chipped in six points (2-5 FG, 2-5 3-FG).
-The double-double was Walters' fourth of the season and 16th of his career, while it was Gilligan's fourth of the season and ninth of his career.
-Southern New Hampshire outshot American International, 42.6 percent (26-61) to 40 percent (28-70), while AIC returned the favor from long distance, 33.3 percent (7-21) to 26.3 percent (5-19).
-SNHU cleaned up at the line as it was plus-13 and also shot a better percentage, 75.9 percent (22-29) to 69.2 percent (9-13).
-The Penmen won the glass (45-40), while the Yellow Jackets held a slight edge in the paint (34-32) and featured a narrowly better assist-to-turnover ratio (10/9-11/10).
The Penmen return to action Monday, Jan. 9 (7 p.m.) when they take on Saint Thomas Aquinas College. The next home game for SNHU is Saturday, Jan. 14 (3:30 p.m.) when they play host to Adelphi University at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
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