COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team erased a 22-point deficit to forge ahead with fewer than four minutes remaining before suffering its first home loss of the season versus the University of New Haven, 78-68, on Tuesday evening at the Ross Sports Center in a match-up of two of the Northeast-10 Conference's top defensive teams. The Purple Knights fell to 11-3 overall and 6-3 in the league, while the Chargers are 11-4 and 6-3.
New Haven entered the game with the top scoring defense in the NE-10 (60.6), which was also good for first in the East Region and fifth in all of Division II. The Chargers yielded a league-low 37.7 percent shooting to opponents, while Saint Michael's stood second at 39.2 percent. For the evening, New Haven shot 50.8 percent to the hosts' 40.3 percent.
Purple Knight junior Mike Holton Jr. (Portland, Ore./The Winchendon School) hit four three-pointers en route to scoring 20 points while moving into 26th in school annals in career points (1,132). He passed Tom Lemanowicz '57 (1,118) and is just six points shy of Bernie Cieplicki '57 for 25th. Junior James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla./The Winchendon School) shot 8-of-10 for 17 points while snagging six rebounds and blocking two shots, moving past Jay Wandtke '98 (109) and alone into third in program history for rejections (110). First-year Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) totaled 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench, junior Mike Thompson (Rosedale, N.Y./Christ The King Regional) hauled in nine caroms, and classmate Dom Ditlefsen (Portland, Ore./Sunset) had eight points.
Senior Jeffery Adkins (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) had a game-high 24 points for New Haven, and classmate Justin Exum (Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian) posted 16 points. Junior Eric Anderson (Newark, N.J./Newark Tech) added 13 points and seven boards, and senior Ashanti DePass (Baldwin, N.Y./Baldwin) notched 11 points.
After trailing by as many as 22 points as late as the opening minute of the second half, the Purple Knights rallied all the way back thanks to scoring in spurts. Holton notched five straight points before Cambronne had three buckets in a matter of 1:24 to cap an 11-0 run, making it 51-40 with 14:55 remaining, and Bonds hit two freebies and threw down a dunk prior to Holton canning a triple to produce a 53-47 margin at 12:17. New Haven went back up by as many as seven, including at 65-58 with 5:50 to go, but Holton completed an 8-0 run with two free throws and the go-ahead three from in front of the Saint Michael's bench with 3:45 left, putting his team ahead 66-65 and finishing a lengthy 37-14 run.
However, Adkins put New Haven on top for good with a lay-up just 16 seconds later. An Exum bucket was met by Bonds' hoop, drawing the hosts within 69-68 with 2:45 remaining, but the Chargers scored the final nine points thanks to a 7-of-9 free throw shooting performance down the stretch.
New Haven scored the first seven points of the game before Ditlefsen and Thompson dropped in buckets 24 seconds apart, but the Chargers forged ahead by a 21-8 count by starting the game by shooting 8-of-12, including 5-of-5 on three-pointers. Holton buried a triple at 12:33 of the opening half to make it a 10-point game, and Cambronne converted a three-point play with 4:51 remaining to help the hosts trail 34-23. New Haven responded with the next 11 points to forge ahead 45-23 with 1:07 left before Thompson's three-point play just before halftime made it 47-28 at break. New Haven finished the half shooting 63.3 percent with an 8-of-10 showing from three-point range. Saint Michael's turned in a 36.4 percent clip.
The Purple Knights play five of their next seven games away from home, taking on Southern Connecticut State University on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Owls are receiving votes toward this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches' (NABC) national poll.