WEST HAVEN, Conn. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team returned to the Northeast-10 Conference Championship for the second time in four years on Sunday, falling to the University of New Haven, 83-65, during a quarterfinal contest in Charger Gymnasium.
The third seed from the Northeast Division, Purple Knights are now 18-9 and will await word regarding a potential NCAA Tournament berth, which would be their first since 2001. The Chargers, the No. 2 seed from the Southwest, improved to 20-7 and advanced to a Wednesday semifinal at Saint Anselm College. Saint Michael's is fifth in this week's NCAA East Region poll, while New Haven is fourth.
Junior Mike Thompson (Rosedale, N.Y./Christ The King Regional) notched 17 points, coming within one of his career high, to pace the visitors, shooting 7-of-11 while posting five rebounds and two blocks. Classmate Corey Crawford II (Dover, Del./The Phelps School) had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with six boards and two assists, and junior Mike Holton Jr. (Portland, Ore./The Winchendon School) added 14 points and four helpers, moving into 16th in school history in career scoring (1,335) to pass Brian Young '89 (1,330).
Junior James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla./The Winchendon School) added eight points and five boards. The Purple Knights committed only six turnovers.
Junior Eric Anderson (Newark, N.J./Newark Tech) had 19 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and three blocks for New Haven, and senor Jeffery Adkins (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) posted 19 points and six assists. Senior Justin Exum (Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian) tacked on 13 points and three assists as one of five double-figure scorers. The Chargers hit 11 three-points and held advantages of 42-30 in rebounding and 30-18 on points in the paint while also committing only six giveaways.
Crawford buried a three-pointer 31 seconds into the second half to cut his team's deficit to 36-30, and he later created three eight-point deficits on two free throws at 16:54, a jumper at 15:52 and a fast-break three at 14:22, and the Purple Knights trailed 49-41. Anderson responded with consecutive baskets before New Haven capped a 7-0 run at 12:46, grabbing a 56-41 advantage. Holton posted back-to-back buckets 1:11 apart to bring his team within 56-45, but the Chargers scored 14 of the next 17 points around a Thompson three to take a 70-48 lead and begin pulling away. Holton and Cambronne knocked down back-to-back threes before first-year Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) drove for a lay-in to make it 73-58 with 3:21 remaining, but Saint Michael's came no closer.
The opening half saw 10 lead changes, with the Purple Knights grabbing their first edge, 6-5, on Thompson's backdoor lay-up off a Holton pass at the 16:06 mark. Saint Michael's forged ahead by three points on three occasions, for the final time on Cambronne's three-pointer at 13:30 that snapped a 12-all tie. New Haven scored the next four points, but Thompson dropped in a bucket off a high-low pass from Cambronne to put his team up 17-16 with 9:04 remaining. Sophomore Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) drained a three-pointer to turn a deficit into a 22-21 lead with 6:29 to go, but the Chargers responded with the next 15 points during a 4:19 stretch, utilizing three three-pointers.
Thompson buried a triple at 1:23 to snap the hosts' run, and Holton hit a mid-range jumper with 45 seconds left to produce the 36-27 halftime score. New Haven shot 41.9 percent to the Purple Knights' 40.7 percent while being whistled for only one foul, as the teams combined for just four infractions.