COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's basketball team whittled a 12-point deficit to one in the final minute on Thursday before losing a 72-68 decision against 15th-ranked Daemen (N.Y.) College during a non-conference contest in the Ross Sports Center. The Wildcats, who qualified for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, are 15th in the most recent D2SIDA National Media Poll.
- Saint Michael's (3-8), Daemen (13-3)
SAINT MICHAEL'S LEADERS
- Senior Eli DiGrande (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex), 20 points, 9 rebounds, 9-for-14 field goals
- Senior Jordan Guzman (Staten Island, N.Y./Xaverian), 18 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 7-for-14 field goals, 4-for-10 three-pointers
- First-year Kasai Brown (Brooklyn, N.Y./Millbrook School), 13 points, 3 steals, 5-for-8 field goals
- Junior Walker Storey (Shelburne, Vt./Champlain Valley Union), 8 points, 4 assists, 3-for-6 field goals
- Redshirt junior Thomas Jackson III (Middletown, Conn./Holderness School), 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
- Junior Jason Heter (Andover, N.J./Newton), 5 rebounds, 3 offensive rebounds
- First-year Jalen Gorham (York, Pa./MacDuffie School), 4 rebounds
- Redshirt junior Andrew Sischo, 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
- Senior Breon Harris, 16 points, 8 rebounds
- Redshirt senior Jeff Redband, 13 points, 3 assists
- Redshirt senior Jay Sarkis, 12 points, 6 assists
- Daemen was ranked 15th in the latest D2SIDA National Media Poll and 16th in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches' (NABC) national poll. The Wildcats qualified for the 2019 NCAA Tournament and were 53-11 since their last visit to Colchester on Dec. 30, 2017.
- Saint Michael's held a decisive 40-22 advantage in rebounding versus a team ranked fourth in the NCAA East Region in rebounding margin (+6.2), as the Wildcats entered the game with 38.3 boards per contest. The Purple Knights last allowed so few caroms on Jan. 13, 2015, surrendering 20 rebounds to Adelphi University.
- Only five bench points were scored between the teams, with the hosts holding a 3-2 edge. Heter had the only bench basket by either squad, while he and Gorham accounted for a 9-1 rebounding lead by the reserves.
- Saint Michael's shot 55.2 percent in the second half, including 5-for-12 from three-point range.
- Despite giving way to a major height disparity - Daemen had two players standing 6-foot-9 or taller to the Purple Knights' zero - the hosts held a 40-34 advantage in paint points.
- While Sischo had a standout performance, Saint Michael's still contained him to below his season averages in scoring (25.8), rebounding (13.1), field goal shooting (64.6%) and offensive rebounding (5.1), all of which led the NCAA East Region. He entered the day first nationally in Division II in rebounding, offensive boards and double-doubles (12).
- The Purple Knights continued a five-game run during which four games are at home after playing only two of their first nine contests in the Ross Sports Center.
- The teams played a non-league contest for the fourth straight year, accounting for every meeting ever between the squads.
- Saint Michael's had last played on Dec. 18. After playing three times between Nov. 24 and Jan. 1, this was the first of three contests in seven days.
- Sischo's putback at 15:15 of the opening half was followed by redshirt senior Joey Wallace's three 50 seconds later. Harris drained a jumper with 11:58 left, capping a 7-0 spurt that provided Daemen a 14-6 lead.
- Saint Michael's responded with a 14-3 run, with Brown, DiGrande and Jackson all scoring four points. DiGrande at one point converted consecutive Purple Knight baskets before Jackson put home the go-ahead lay-in at 4:48. Brown's jumper with 3:46 left created a 20-17 edge.
- Redband's tying triple sparked a 7-0 run, but the Purple and Gold twice crept within a point before halftime, including on Brown's dunk at 1:35 (26-25).
- Wallace's steal and lay-in 27 seconds into the second half capped a 9-0 run that bridged the intermission and gave Daemen a 35-25 advantage, but Saint Michael's countered with a 9-1 stretch. After the hosts hit one three in the first half, Storey and Guzman knocked down treys on consecutive possessions before Storey later found DiGrande for a bucket at 17:11 that made it 36-34.
- Sarkis hit two triples in 47 seconds to cap a 9-1 jaunt that put the Wildcats up 52-41 at 12:29, and Sischo's lay-in at 9:54 had the visitors in front by a 61-49 margin.
- Brown netted five points in a 10-0 response, bookending a stretch that included a DiGrande dunk and Storey's three. After Harris hit a jumper at 6:42 to push the lead back to 65-59, DiGrande and Guzman made buckets on back-to-back possessions, and Daemen never again led by more than four points.
- Brown's pair of freebies made it 69-67 with 3:04 left, and the teams combined for five empty possessions before DiGrande was fouled on a drive and made a free throw at 54.6 seconds to draw his team within one.
- Redband hit a critical three-pointer at 40 seconds to extend the lead to 72-68, and a Purple Knight turnover gave the ball back to the Wildcats.
- Storey rebounded a missed free throw at 15.9 seconds, and Saint Michael's had four looks - including three from beyond the arc - fall offline in the waning moments of the game.
NEXT SAINT MICHAEL'S GAME
- Saturday at Franklin Pierce University, 3:30 p.m.