When and Where: February 23, 2018 – New Haven, Conn. (Moore Fieldhouse)
Score: Southern Connecticut State University 76, Southern New Hampshire University 74
Records: SCSU 16-11, SNHU 15-12
In what would be the final game of his career, senior Dimitri Floras (Merrimack, N.H.) scored a team-high 20 points, but the Southern New Hampshire University men's basketball team had its season ended by buzzer-beating tip-in at the end of regulation in a 76-74 loss to Southern Connecticut State University in the first round of the Northeast-10 Championship on Friday night at the Moore Fieldhouse.
Floras was 7-for-15 from the field, including 3-for-7 from beyond the arc, and 3-for-5 from the stripe, to go with four assists, two rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Eamonn Joyce (Medford, Mass.) netted 18 points (7-10 FG, 2-3 3-FG, 2-3 FT) and blocked a pair of shots, while junior Daquaise Andrews (Queens, N.Y.) tallied 13 points (3-6 FG, 1-2 3-FG, 6-8 FT), seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Isaiah McLeod led the Owls with 22 points, while Ulyen Coleman added 15.
Southern New Hampshire held its largest lead of the game at 63-51 with under eight-and-a-half minutes to go when seven points from McLeod, and six each from Luke Beesley and Jerry Luckett, Jr., carried a 21-9 run that left the contest tied, 72-72, with 46 seconds on the clock. A Joyce layup 14 seconds later put the Penmen back in front, but a pair of free throws by McLeod at the 24-second mark forged another draw at 74-74.
Following an SNHU miss at the other end with four seconds remaining, Southern Connecticut called timeout and threw a full-court pass that was knocked out of bounds with a second on the clock, giving the Owls one final chance with an inbound underneath their own basket. Bernard Brantley threw lob toward the weak side of the paint, where Luckett elevated, caught the ball, hung in the air and tipped it in off the glass as time expired.
Senior Chris Walters (Stamford, Conn.), who fouled out with 5:07 remaining, finished with seven points (2-9 FG, 1-5 3-FG, 2-2 FT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals in the final game of his illustrious career. Andrews also fouled out with 1:46 to play.
Southern Connecticut led just once in a first half that featured eight ties and just five different leads larger than three. Junior Charlie Russo (Syracuse, N.Y.) canned a 3-pointer at the 9:24 mark to give Southern New Hampshire its largest lead of the stanza at 26-21. The Owls responded with a 5-0 spurt that knotted the game for the sixth time with 7:09 to play.
The Penmen later led, 34-30, when a 6-1 stretch put Southern Connecticut in front for the first time at 36-35 with 2:27 left. A jumper from sophomore Ryogo Sumino (Kanagawa, Japan) with nine seconds remaining sent SNHU to the locker room with a 37-36 edge.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Brantley and McLeod to open the second-half scoring gave the Owls their largest lead of the contest at 42-37 just over a minute in. The Penmen answered in a big way, ripping off a 26-9 blitz – with Joyce scoring eight of the first 10 points – to open up the 63-51 advantage with under nine minutes remaining. Floras added six during the stretch, with Andrews kicking in four.
Russo recorded eight points (2-3 FG, 2-3 3-FG, 2-2 FT), three rebounds and two assists, while Sumino chimed in with five points (2-3 FG, 1-2 3-FG) and five rebounds. Redshirt-senior Scott Toresco (Westfield, N.J.) chipped in three points (1-5 FG, 1-2 FT) and three boards.
-This marks the first time Southern New Hampshire has been bounced in the first round of the NE10 Championship since March 1, 2008, when it suffered a 65-57 defeat at Bryant University.
-SNHU is now 21-13 (.618) all-time in the NE10 postseason.
-The Penmen have now had their season ended by Southern Connecticut in back-to-back years, with the Owls dealing SNHU a 109-98 loss in the opening round of the NCAA East Regional last season.
-Walters finishes his Penmen career ranked first in both free throws made (618) and attempted (771), fourth in blocks (156), seventh in rebounds (907) and ninth in points (1,875).
-Southern New Hampshire outshot Southern Connecticut, 44.4 percent (24-54) to 41 percent (25-61), while SCSU returned the favor from deep, 55 percent (11-20) to 41.7 percent (10-24), and from the line, 75 percent (15-20) to 69.6 percent (16-23).
-The Penmen narrowly won the paint (22-18) and turned in a more impressive assist-to-turnover ratio (15/14-8/15), while the Owls captured the glass, 43-31, including 12-6 on the offensive end for an 18-2 advantage in second chance points.
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