In a battle of the two USCAA Division II men's basketball finalists from 2017-2018, the Berkeley College men's basketball team picked up a statement victory on Saturday afternoon, holding off the Vikings of Villa Maria by a score of 91-84 at Baruch College's ARC Arena in New York, NY. With the triumph, the Knights improved to 12-4 on the season.
The Vikings entered the game as the No. 1 ranked team in the most recent USCAA Coaches Poll. Villa Maria also came into the game 19-1, but despite this being a new season, the Knights were more than ready for the challenge.
In the victory for Berkeley, Nicholas Cora was sensational for the Knights, posting game-highs of 23 points and 19 rebounds. He connected on 10 of his 16 attempts from the floor, while also draining three of his four shots from the charity stripe. Additionally, he recorded three steals and swatted a pair of shots.
Anthony Hemingway and Deylon Bovell recorded 13 points apiece for Berkeley, and veterans Ricardo Ayuso and Nigel Hemingway dropped in 12 points each for the soaring Knights.
Despite the loss for Villa Maria, DeJaun Owens drilled four shots from downtown and finished with a team-high 22 points. He also snatched five rebounds, as well. Dominic Douglas contributed 18 points for the Vikings, and Lonnie Taylor put together a fine all-around game, netting 13 points, snatching 10 caroms, tallying five assists, and adding two steals.
In what was a 13-point turnaround in the opening session, the Knights turned a six-point deficit (18-12) into a 45-38 advantage as the teams entered the locker room at halftime.
Berkeley took its largest lead of the game with 10:58 remaining in regulation when Anthony Hemingway knocked down a three-point basket to put the Knights ahead by a score of 69-54. The Knights later led the game 74-62 with 7:57 left on the clock, but a 10-2 Vikings run over a span of 4:36 brought Villa Maria to within four points (76-72) with 3:21 to go.
Following that aforementioned Villa Maria run, Ayuso scored the next five points of the game, and Cora's converted layup with 2:16 remaining put the Knights back up by double digits (83-72). The Vikings continued to battle, closing the gap to six points at 85-79 with just under one minute to play, but the Knights outscored Villa Maria 6-5 down the stretch to account for the seven-point win.
Berkeley shot 45.2 percent from the floor (33-73) while holding the Vikings to a 36.5 percent conversion rate (27-74). The Knights held a 51-44 edge on the glass, while also swatting six shots to Villa Maria's five. The Vikings minimally won the turnover battle, committing 22 miscues while forcing 23 Knights mistakes. Villa Maria recorded 16 team assists to Berkeley's 12.
The Knights will look to make it six consecutive wins and go perfect for the month of January when they host Davis College in an HVIAC contest at BMCC this Wednesday evening. Start-time is scheduled for 7:30pm.