COLCHESTER, Vt. - Saint Michael's College men's basketball junior Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) rebounded the miss of Assumption College's potential game-winning shot with three seconds left on Wednesday night before capping a 26-point effort with a free throw to finish off the Purple Knights' 69-67 win in Ross Sports Center. The Purple and Gold is now 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the league, while the Greyhounds fall to 1-6 and 0-4.
Holmes narrowly missed his season average of 26.6 points, which led the NCAA East Region and was good for third in Division II, while shooting 11-of-16 overall and 3-of-4 from three-point range. He added team bests of six rebounds and two steals while matching for high honors with five assists. Holmes equaled Ben Smith '04 for 12th in program history by pushing his career three-pointers total to 142.
Sophomore Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) shot 6-of-9 en route to 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off the bench, while junior Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) notched 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting with four boards. Senior Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) turned in eight points and five assists - versus zero turnovers - and redshirt senior Bruno Beča (Zagreb, Croatia/Westchester Country Day School) and sophomore Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian) posted five and four rebounds, respectively.
Saint Michael's committed only eight turnovers while shooting 50.0 percent, including 8-of-19 (42.1%) from three-point range. This marked the seventh straight meeting between the teams that was decided by 10 points or less, while Saint Michael's moved to 17-5 at home in the series since 1993. The Purple Knights have captured six of the last nine meetings.
First-year Matthew Kelly netted 19 points for Assumption on 4-of-5 three-point shooting, sophomore Branislav Vujadinovic had 14 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Joseph Sullivan turned in 10 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Patrick Fleming handed out eight assists, and junior Nick Pasquale blocked five shots.
Holmes knocked down a jumper to give his team a 63-57 lead with 4:27 remaining before Fleming buried a triple of his own 33 seconds later and Kelly tied the game by connecting on each part of a three-shot foul with 1:56 to go. DiGrande's dunk and free throw 15 ticks later put the hosts back in front, 66-63, but the Greyhounds twice crept within one, including on Vujadinovic's driving lay-up at 36 seconds. Assumption was forced to foul late, leading to a Purple Knight missing the front end of a one-and-one with 12.5 ticks to go. After a timeout, the visitors came out with a couple misses of their own, with a bank shot bouncing off the rim before a tip-in attempt was grabbed by Holmes, who was fouled with 0.2 seconds remaining. He hit the first of two freebies, and a Greyhound rebound did not leave the visitors time to release a winning shot.
Richey scored the first five points of what became a 7-0 Saint Michael's lead before the teams traded runs. An 8-0 stretch during which Kelly hit two threes made it 10-9 in favor of Assumption at 13:01 of the opening half before Cheatom converted a three-point play and DiGrande dropped in back-to-back buckets during a 7-0 response. While Sullivan tied the game at 18 on two free throws with 10:13 to play, the visitors never took the lead back in the stanza, as redshirt sophomore Stan Foster (Rochester, N.Y./Avon Old Farms School) canned a triple 18 seconds later and Saint Michael's eventually led by as many as nine points on Holmes' jumper at 1:39. The hosts were ahead 42-35 at halftime.
Sullivan scored the last five points of a 10-0 run that Assumption used to begin the second half, as the teams played through four lead changes and four ties in the initial 9:50. Sullivan's lay-in forced the fourth deadlock, but DiGrande's putback with 8:46 left put his team on top, with Saint Michael's eventually going back up by six on Holmes' bucket at 4:27.
The Purple Knights host regionally-ranked Bentley University on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Falcons are tied for eighth in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.