COLCHESTER, Vt. - Four players scored in double figures, and the Saint Michael's College men's basketball team downed American International College, 65-53, on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center for its fourth victory in five contests. The Purple Knights improved to 5-9 overall and 2-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference during the teams' 100th meeting in a series that dates back to 1935, while the Yellow Jackets are 8-7 and 3-4.
Juniors Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) and Winston Jones II (Valley Stream, N.Y./Valley Stream Central) both registered 17 points for the Purple and Gold, with Holmes picking up two steals and shooting 8-of-9 on free throws while Jones snagged five rebounds and shot 6-of-13 overall, hitting three three-pointers. Junior Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) and redshirt sophomore Stan Foster (Rochester, N.Y./Avon Old Farms School) both scored 10 points off the bench, with Cheatom draining three threes and Foster adding two steals.
Sophomore Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian) had five assists and five rebounds, senior Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) grabbed a team-best seven rebounds, and sophomore Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School) totaled five boards, three assists and two steals. The Purple Knights allowed their fewest points since also yielding 53 to the University of New Haven on Jan. 26, 2016, thanks to AIC shooting only 30.9 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from three-point range. Saint Michael's connected on 10 triples while going 13-of-15 on free throws and holding a 41-38 advantage on the glass.
Holmes increased his career point total to 981 during his 65th contest, becoming one of the top 50 scorers in the more than 100-year history of the program, while tying Dom Ditlefsen '15 for 11th in school annals with 160 career threes. Saint Michael's improved to 4-3 in its last seven games with AIC, with the three losses coming by an average of 4.3 points. Each of the last nine meetings had been decided by eight points or fewer, with Saturday's margin the largest since a 12-point Yellow Jacket victory on Nov. 22, 2008. The Purple Knights last won by this many points on Feb. 10, 2001, an 81-50 win.
Junior Andrew Anderson totaled game highs of 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while shooting 8-of-11 for AIC, but no other Yellow Jacket had more than eight points or two made field goals. First-year Adonis Williams finished with those eight points in addition to two steals, and senior Tahlib Swan, the team's leading scorer entering the day at 14.5 points, had seven points and eight rebounds while the Purple Knights held him to 1-for-9 shooting.
Holmes scored the game's first five points before Guzman's fastbreak lay-in off of a Holmes steal made it 7-0 by 17:27 of the opening half, and Holmes countered a Swan three-pointer with a pair of free throws in accounting for seven of his team's first nine points. Jones knocked down consecutive treys before Richey buried a long three at 10:37, and Holmes' two freebies 52 seconds later created a 20-6 cushion. A three by Foster kept the hosts up 14, at 23-9, before the next 13 points came from Yellow Jackets, including eight by Anderson, whose lay-up with 2:52 to go made it a one-point game.
With the teams still separated by one point in the final two minutes, Foster buried a three at 1:37, threw down a breakaway dunk off of Guzman's lead pass with 50 seconds to go, and rejected an AIC shot to keep it a six-point game at 39 ticks. Sophomore Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) later tipped home a teammate's missed three at the buzzer to reestablish his team's six-point lead, 32-26, at halftime.
Sophomore Zekiah Owens converted a lay-up 40 seconds into the second half to bring AIC within four, but Jones scored the next five points to put Saint Michael's back up by nine. First-year Jordan Vidal put home a free throw at 14:27 to draw the visitors within 39-34, but Cheatom hit a triple 50 seconds later, and the hosts never again led by fewer than six. Williams made a free throw with 7:04 left to create a 48-42 margin, but Holmes finished off a three-point play and Cheatom nailed a trey to push the lead back to 12, with the Purple and Gold leading by at least seven points the rest of the way.
The Purple Knights host the University of New Haven on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.