The Berkeley College men's basketball team missed 15 free throws, committed 28 turnovers, and saw its best player shoot 2-for-16 in tonight's Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown with the College of New Rochelle. Despite all of those hardships – remarkably – the Knights kept their winning streak alive, defeating the Blue Angels by a score of 97-88 at the Wellness Center in New Rochelle, NY. The victory – the Knights' 18th straight – pushed Berkeley to 21-1 on the year – and 6-0 in HVIAC competition. The College of New Rochelle – which had won nine consecutive games entering tonight – lost and dropped to 14-8 on the season (and 6-1 in conference play). Following the game, Head Coach Jonathan Pena spoke.
"Look, the bottom line is that we struggled here tonight, but we made enough plays to win the game, against a good basketball team, in a hostile environment," Pena said. "With every victory, I feel that our resolve gets stronger. There truly is no other way to express it – these guys hate to lose. Johnnie was outstanding for us tonight. He was our rock. I was also happy with the effort Shamoree turned in. We really needed him tonight – and he came through. We'll enjoy this win for a short time before getting ready for Davis College on Sunday."
The aforementioned Johnnie Green turned in a stellar performance that the Knights absolutely needed tonight, as he converted on eight of his 11 attempts from the floor this evening to finish with 19 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and two assists. Ricardo Ayuso hit on seven of his 13 attempts from the floor to finish with a team-high 20 points, and Demetri Stewart added 10 points and four rebounds. Strawn logged 25 minutes and snatched a game-high 15 rebounds. He also hit on seven of his 10 attempts from the charity stripe, while ultimately finishing with nine points. Michael Taylor had a rare off-game, hitting just two of his 16 attempts from the floor and committing four turnovers to finish with eight points and a game-high eight assists.
Despite the loss for the College of New Rochelle, four players scored in double figures, including Elijah Harris, as he drilled seven of his eight attempts at the line to finish with 21 points. He also tied for the team-highs in rebounds with seven and steals with four, while tallying four assists. Jaylin Gray contributed 18 points, six rebounds, and four steals, and Hunter Schenkel and Justin Rivera scored 15 points apiece.
In what was a wild back-and-forth affair for the most part, neither team took more than a four points lead in the opening 5:50, until the Blue Angels' Glen O'Loughlin converted on a layup to make it 18-13 in favor of the College of New Rochelle. A 5-0 Berkeley run over the ensuing 44 seconds – featuring a three-point basket and two straight field got attempts by Ayuso – tied the game at 18 apiece.
The next 3:51 of action saw six baskets converted, with the teams alternating back and forth on makes. New Rochelle held leads of 20-18, 22-20, and 24-22 during that span, and then with the game tied 24-all, the Blue Angels would once again take the lead on consecutive free throw makes by Rivera. Later – with New Rochelle holding a slim 28-27 advantage, Berkeley College would put together an 8-2 run to leap ahead by five points – 35-30. That five point advantage equaled the largest lead that either team boasted up until that juncture of the contest. The game continued to stay close, with the Blue Angels eventually tying the game at 47 apiece with 40 seconds remaining in the half. Berkeley College would make sure that it took a lead into the locker room, though, as Foday Saccoh connected on a three-point basket with 12 seconds remaining in the session to give the Knights a 50-47 edge. That is the way the score would stay as the teams entered the locker room at halftime.
Berkley College used a strong 7-0 run (and 10-0 extending back from the final seconds of the first stanza) early in the second half to build a double digit lead – 57-47. Later – the Knights still held a 10-point lead – 63-53 – when the Blue Angels started to make a push. The College of New Rochelle would go on a 10-0 run over a span of 2:35 to pull to tie the game at 63-all. The Knights raced right back with a 5-0 run of their own – courtesy of a hoop by Green and a successful three-point play from Stewart – to go back up 68-63 with 11 minutes remaining.
Almost four minutes later – with Berkeley clinging to a 76-72 lead – the Knights began to pull away. Berkeley College's defense would start to hunker down, allowing just one Blue Angels field goal from the 7:06 mark until the 0:17 mark. The Knights – thanks to that strong defensive play down the stretch – held on for a nine-point win.
Berkeley College did shoot the ball well this evening, hitting on 47.2 percent of its shots (34-72) compared to 36 percent for the Blue Angels (27-75). The Knights held a convincing edge in the rebounding department, snatching 58 caroms to the College of New Rochelle's 45. Berkeley missed 15 freebees (22-37, 59.5 percent), but unbelievably – New Rochelle misfired on more – nailing just 31 of their 47 attempts from the line (66 percent). The Knights won the assists category with 18 helpers compared to 14 for the opposition, and Berkeley College turned the ball over 28 times compared to 18 for the Blue Angels.
The Knights will return to action on Sunday, as Berkeley College will take to the road to battle Davis College in another Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest. Start-time is scheduled for 5:00pm.