by Tom Utescher
Last Friday host Chestnut Hill College came within seconds of upsetting Bloomsburg University, a school almost 10 times its size, but with two seconds remaining visiting center Larry Webster tipped in the rebound of a teammate’s jump shot, giving the Huskies an 87-86 non-conference win.
The CHC Griffins ended the old year with an overall record of 10-5 while remaining 3-0 within the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. Bloomsburg, already owners of a 5-1 mark within the Pa. State Athletic Conference, improved to 9-2 on the season.
The Huskies bolted out to a 9-2 lead in the game and forced a time-out by Chestnut Hill, which found itself down 16-6 a few minutes later. The Griffins finally got some traction when senior Brandon Williams lofted a three-pointer from the right corner and freshman Alssene Saintilus sank a free throw and a lay-up, erasing much of the deficit.
With 12:22 left in the first half CHC went ahead for the first time, with sophomore Jakeem Bogans feeding junior Mark DiRugeris for a fast break lay-up that made it 19-18. The two squads went neck-and-neck after that, arriving at a 40-40 tie as a time-out was called just before halftime. After the pause, Bogans banged in a trey with four seconds showing, granting the Griffins a 43-40 advantage at the interlude.
DiRugeris deposited seven points in the early stages of the second half. This helped preserve a modest lead for CHC, which was ahead 52-48 five minute into the new period. Quick strikes from three-point territory by Williams and freshman guard Luke Dickson widened the gap to 10 points, forcing the Huskies to huddle up in a time-out.
Bloomsburg was able to keep its deficit from getting completely out of control, but with the clock under four minutes the Griffins seemed to be in good shape, holding an 80-72 lead. The Huskies got closer with a pair of field goals. The second bucket came with a free throw attached, and although the foul shot missed, Nnamdi Njoku grabbed his teammate’s miss and went back up to score.
A CHC turnover seconds later led to two made free throws for Bloomsburg, and to the dismay of the home crowd, the contest was now tied, 80-80, with 2:11 to play.
Chestnut Hill inched ahead, 84-82, but when Saintilus fouled out with 55 seconds left, Njoku converted one of two tosses from the line. Next, the Bloomsburg senior forced his way inside for a lay-up that moved the Huskies ahead, 85-84, then the Griffins regained the lead as Bogans culled both points from a one-and-one with 10 seconds left in the game.
From the right end of the foul line, Bloomsburg’s Trevon Johnson (11 points total) launched what looked to be the final shot of the afternoon, but as the ball started to come out off of the rim, an airborne Webster tapped it back into the cylinder.
With a game-high 25 points, Donathe Jordan topped a list of five double-digit scorers for the Huskies, who received 14 points each from Njoku and Webster, and a dozen from Ed Hall.
Turnovers were even between the teams, and there actually was a 34-30 rebounding advantage for the Griffins, who had six players reach double figures in scoring. Guards DiRugeris and Williams (seven rebounds, seven assists) wound up with 19 and 15 points respectively, while senior forward Dan Comas contributed 13 points and matched Bloomsburg’s Jordan for the game-high in rebounds, with 10.
Saintilus supplied 11 points for Chestnut Hill, which got 10 apiece from Bogans and Dickson.