Roman Letterlough (left), a Chestnut Hill College junior, tries to squeeze a lay-up past a block put up by Jalen Thompson of Holy Family University. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Although they’ll come back to play a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game on December 30, the bulk of the 2017 portion of the basketball season now lies behind the men of Chestnut Hill College.

“Good riddance” would have to be the prevailing feeling among the Griffins, especially after they broke for the holidays coming off of a disturbing loss at home to CACC rival Holy Family University.

CHC had reason for optimism going into this game. Despite some margins of defeat well up in double figures in early non-conference contests, the Griffins had lost in their first three CACC games by single-digit shortfalls of four, five and eight points. The five-point setback had come against Southern Division leader Jefferson University, and Chestnut Hill came into last Tuesday’s game with exactly the same record as the struggling Holy Family Tigers, 0-3 in the conference and 1-9 overall.

Jumping ahead at the outset, CHC dropped behind for good when the visitors made an 11-0 run in the middle of the first half. The Tigers led 50-35 at the intermission, and went on to win, 100-76.

Certainly, no one in or around the Chestnut Hill program could point a finger at Penn Charter alum Demetrius Isaac. The senior guard put up the team high in points (25) and the game high in assists (six). Senior forward Chris Evans and junior guard Cartier Talford added a dozen points each.

The Griffins went out to a 6-2 lead, bracketing a lone Holy Family lay-up with a three-point and-one play by freshman guard Rich Dean Jr. and a three-point field goal from the right wing by Evans. Holy Family hit a few more baskets from the paint, then got going on the perimeter.

Still, a short jumper from the lane by junior Tony Toplyn Jr. had CHC within a point of the Tigers (8-9) almost seven minutes in, and soon after that the Griffins were only two points back (12-14) following two made free throws by Isaac.

CHC freshman Rich Dean Jr. gets off a shot from the left corner. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The Tigers would make a clean break after that, as freshman Terrell Jones hit two of the three Holy Family three-pointers that powered a two-minute 11-0 surge. Even when the hosts began scoring again, it was from the free throw line. They did not score from the floor again until freshman reserve guard Colin Flach bagged a “three” from the left flank, and that came with only about six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first half.

Three shorter jumpers by Isaac late in the period helped keep the visitors from racing off into the distance, but at the intermission the Griffins were still facing a 50-35 deficit.

CHC’s Evans started the second half with a 15-footer from the left side, and then Toplyn drove the baseline and pulled up for a short jumper that made it 50-39. That was as close as Chestnut Hill got, though, as Holy Family spread out the score once again. The Tigers’ lead topped 20 points around eight minutes in, when freshman Michael Power connected on a trey from the right corner for a 70-48 tally.

Once this gap was established, it remained the status quo for the rest of the evening. There just did not seem to be much energy in CHC’s Sorgenti Arena as the final minutes and then seconds clicked off the clock.

Toplyn finished with eight points for the Griffins and Flach and junior Liban Awl accumulated six apiece, while on the boards Evans and junior Roman Letterlough each pulled down eight rebounds.

Jones recorded a game-high 29 points for Holy Family, and junior Jalen Thompson scored 24 and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Also in double figures in scoring for the Tigers were Power, with 18 points, and Mekhi Bryant and Maliq Sanders, with 10 apiece.

On the road for the aforementioned game at the end of the month, the Griffins will be back in Sorgenti Arena on January 30 for a conference clash with Wilmington University, a team coached by CHC alum Dan Burke (’08).