Men’s Hoop Erases Double-Digit Deficit in 97-95 Thriller vs. Adelphi to Advance

BOX SCORE
RAPID REACTION WITH HEAD COACH STAN SPIROU

When and Where: February 26, 2017 – Manchester, N.H. (SNHU Fieldhouse)
Score:
Southern New Hampshire University 97, Adelphi University 95
Records:
SNHU 20-7, Adelphi 18-12

Sophomore Daquaise Andrews (Queens, N.Y.) and redshirt-junior Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.) combined for 55 points to lead the Southern New Hampshire University men's basketball team to a 97-95 come-from-behind victory against Adelphi University on Sunday afternoon in Northeast-10 Championship quarterfinal action at the SNHU Fieldhouse.

The Penmen, the top seed in the Northeast Division, advance to their third straight semifinal and fourth in the last five seasons where they will play host to the College of Saint Rose, the Southwest Division's No. 2 seed, Wednesday, March 1 (7 p.m.) at the Fieldhouse. Adelphi, the No. 4 seed from the Southwest, will most likely see its season come to a close, barring a massive shift in the regional rankings.

Andrews poured in a career-high 28 points (14-20 FG), including 16 in the second half, to go along with seven rebounds and three assists, while Walters dropped in 27 (8-11 FG, 11-14 FT) – with 17 coming after halftime – and pulled down six rebounds, made five steals and blocked three shots. Senior Devin Gilligan (Amherst, N.H.), the NE10 Player of the Year, supported those two gargantuan efforts with 19 points (7-13 FG, 3-8 3-FG, 2-2 FT) and seven boards. Junior Dimitri Floras (Merrimack, N.H.) also reached double figures as he tallied 14 points (7-12 FG), four assists and three steals.

Michael Coffey paced the Panthers with 23 points. Manny Suarez recorded a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, with Austin Beech doing the same with 20 points, 10 boards and six helpers.

Facing its largest deficit of the entire game at 70-56 with 12:25 remaining the contest, Southern New Hampshire locked down on defense and ripped off a 21-8 run – with eight points from Floras and seven from Walters – to slash the Adelphi lead to just a single point at 78-77 with 6:33 on the clock. The Penmen held the Panthers to 3 of 8 shooting during the stretch and forced four turnovers.

After the teams traded buckets three times, a 5-0 spurt from Adelphi extended its lead to six at 89-83 with 3:49 left. SNHU responded with a 9-2 counter-run – highlighted by four points from Andrews and a Gilligan trey – that put it up by one, 92-91, with 1:56 to go. It was the first Penmen lead since 11:58 of the first half.

A Beech layup put Adelphi back on top just 18 seconds later, but it would be the Panthers' final lead of the day as a ridiculous finish from Walters as he was fouled put the Penmen in front for good at 94-93 with 40.4 seconds left. Walters would miss the chance to complete the three-point play at the line, but following a miss from beyond the arc and one on the front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end, Walters was fouled with under 23 seconds on the clock and sank both free throws to make it 96-93.

After Suarez drilled a pair of his own with under 12 seconds to go, the Penmen inbounded and senior Jerome Harris (Hartford, Conn.) was fouled. He went to the line and knocked down his first attempt for his first point of the game that made it 97-95, but missed the second to give Adelphi a final chance. Coffey tried to get free for a last-second 3-point attempt on the left wing, but he had the ball swiped away by Walters, who went in for the emphatic two-handed slam that occurred just after the final buzzer had sounded.

Senior Adrian Oliveira (Tewksbury, Mass.) returned from a four-game absence to score six points (1-5 FG, 4-4 FT).

The opening half saw nine lead changes before Adelphi opened up a 22-18 advantage with 11:21 remaining. The Penmen would twice cut it to one, but both times the Panthers answered to widen the lead. SNHU pulled within one for a third time at the 7:20 mark, but a Jack Laffey 3-pointer sparked 7-0 run that gave Adelphi its largest advantage of the half at 35-27 with 5:17 remaining.

Southern New Hampshire responded with an 11-3 rush – with the first seven points coming from Walters – to knot the game at 38-all with 2:31 left, but five straight points from Coffey pushed the Panthers back in front, 43-38, at the 1:11 mark. Adelphi would bring a 45-40 lead into the break.

Adelphi opened the second half with an 8-2 run that pushed its lead to 11 at 53-42 with 17:39 remaining. Baskets from Floras and Gilligan trimmed the deficit to seven just under a minute later, but 3-pointers from Coffey, Suarez and Conor McGuinness powered a 9-2 stretch that expanded the lead to 14 at 62-48 with 15:19 left.

An 8-2 counter-run pulled the Penmen to within eight, but Adelphi answered with six straight to grab its 14-point lead back at 70-56 at the 12:25 mark to set up the final dramatics.

Notes:
-Southern New Hampshire is now 20-11 (.645) all-time in the NE Championship, winning 10 of its last 12 conference tourney tilts, including five straight. SNHU is also now 13-1 at home all-time in the NE10 Championship.
-This marked the first ever meeting in the NE10 postseason between the Penmen and Panthers.
-SNHU improves to a perfect 15-0 at home this season, with the 15 victories coming as the most since the 1994-95 team went 15-1. Southern New Hampshire, which has won 18 straight at the Fieldhouse dating back to Feb. 17 of last season, is 28-3 (.903) at home since the start of the 2015-16 campaign and 40-7 (.851) over the last three seasons.
-The Penmen reach 20 wins for the third straight season and for the 17th time under the tutelage of head coach Stan Spirou, who recorded his 624th career victory with the win, including his 65th in the postseason.
-SNHU improves to 12-3 this season when scoring more than 80 points and 8-1 when shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
-Southern New Hampshire outshot Adelphi, 56.7 percent (38-67) to 55.2 percent (37-67), while the Panthers returned the favor from deep, 31 percent (9-29) to 23.1 percent (3-13).
-SNHU was plus-six from the line, outshooting Adelphi, 72 percent (18-25) to 70.6 percent (12-17).
 -The Penmen turned it over just 12 times and forced 21 Adelphi mistakes, including 12 in the second half, to record a 26-17 advantage in points off turnovers. SNHU also won the paint, 60-54, while the Panthers outrebounded SNHU, 41-28, including 11-6, on the offensive end.

Up Next:
The Penmen return to action Wednesday, March 1 (7 p.m.) when they play host to Saint Rose in the NE10 Championship semifinals at the Fieldhouse.

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