by Tom Utescher
Last week the Chestnut Hill College men split the final two games of their 2011-2012 basketball season, winning their regular-season finale on Tuesday evening and then losing a Saturday road game in the opening round of the eight-team Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament.
Finishing out the regular season at home with a 78-74 victory over Goldey Beacom College, the Griffins grabbed the third seed in the South Division of the CACC. Goldey Beacom, from Wilmington, Del. still came away with the top seed, with Philadelphia University placing second.
Saturday’s opening round in the CACC tournament featured crossover play between the two divisions, so CHC was matched up with Dominican College, the second seed from the North section. On the Chargers’ home floor in Orangeburg, N.Y., the Griffins fell, 79-70, wrapping up the season with a record of 11-7 in conference play, and 18-12 overall.
In another Saturday tournament opener, Goldey Beacom beat New York’s Concordia College (number four in the North), 71-67, to finish the week 14-4 in conference play and 17-10 overall.
Before Tuesday’s contest at CHC, the school recognized two graduating 1000-point scorers, forward Dan Comas and guard Brandon Williams.
As game action began, jump shots by guard Ido Yehuda helped Goldey Beacom get out to a 16-12 lead over the first 11 minutes, but inside scoring by Comas and a lay-up and a three-pointer by sophomore Jakeem Bogans gained the Griffins a 21-18 advantage with three-and-a-half minutes to go in the opening period. The teams were tied right near the end, but Chestnut Hill fouled with less than a second to go and one made free throw by Rich Flemming sent the Lighting into the locker room with a 27-26 lead.
After the interlude, Comas continued to be a steady offensive presence in the paint, and junior guard Mark DiRugeris went off on the visitors from all over the court. CHC was up by a dozen with just under seven minutes gone in the second half, and the Griffins still had an eight-point lead (63-55) about five minutes later.
In a span of a little over four minutes, three pointers by Marcus Porter and Flemming started and ended a 14-4 run that put the Chargers up, 69-67. CHC responded by attacking the basket. The Griffins went back in front for good with lay-ups by freshman Luke Dickson, Comas, and junior Francis Ashe. Ashe tacked on a free throw, as well, making it 74-69.
An even exchange of free throws lifted the tally to 76-71, then with seven seconds left the Lightning cut the lead to two with a trey by Flemming. Tariq Uqdah, who led the visitors in both points (19) and rebounds (16), fouled out with four seconds left, and CHC’s DiRugeris hit his two free throws to complete his game-high total of 23 points.
Comas took his final bow at Sorgenti Arena with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Bogans bagged 14 points and gave four assists. Dickson also had four assists, and scored 11 points for the winners.
At Dominican on Saturday night three-point baskets by DiRugeris and freshman Alssene Saintilus launched the Griffins to a 7-0 lead, but the next seven points belonged to the Chargers. Coming off of another tie at 17-all, Dominican forged ahead with an 11-2 burst to make it 28-19, and as the first-half clock dropped below three-and-a-half minutes the home team was even farther in front, 40-25.
The Griffins managed to bring the gap back down into single figures by halftime (42-33), when DiRugeris and Saintilus had 15 and nine points in the book, respectively. From that combined total of 24 in the first half, the CHC duo saw their output drop to four points between them in the second period.
Other players came forward to keep the visitors in it. Comas went from three points before the intermission to eight in the second half, and reserve guard Torrell Candelaria netted eight of his 10 total points following the break.
It took awhile for the locals to make serious progress, but they were within half-a-dozen points of the lead with 4:16 to go, at 66-60. It was 72-64 as the clock clicked below the two-minute mark, then a “three” by Candelaria and a shorter jump shot by DiRugeris closed the gap to three points (72-69) with 1:43 left to play.
Dominican standout Leon Porter popped in two free throws to help shift the momentum for the final 90 seconds, when CHC would collect its only point on an Ashe foul shot. Four-for-four shooting from the stripe by the Chargers locked in the final score at 79-70.
DiRugeris guided the guests with 17 points and Chestnut Hill received 11 apiece from Comas (eight rebounds) and Saintilus (six rebounds, two blocks). Ashe ended up with nine points and six assists. Porter pumped in 27 points for the victors, and teammates Mike Calzonetti and Cory Quimby each registered 14 points and 11 rebounds.