Falcons finish strong to overcome CHC men, 86-77

by Tom Utescher
Posted 1/13/22

In a tight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest at Chestnut Hill College last Saturday, the host Griffins were tied with the men of visiting Felician University at halftime.

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Falcons finish strong to overcome CHC men, 86-77

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In a tight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest at Chestnut Hill College last Saturday, the host Griffins were tied with the men of visiting Felician University at halftime, and CHC enjoyed a 66-62 edge with about 10 and a half minutes remaining in the game.

A subsequent 8-0 run by the Falcons proved decisive. Chestnut Hill would never retake the lead or draw even with the visitors, even though no more than two baskets separated the squads until the very end. Felician, from Rutherford, N.J., took away an 86-77 victory, handing CHC its first conference loss while improving to 2-1 and climbing to 7-4 overall.

The Griffins slipped to 3-1, 6-6. It was their first home game of 2022; they had started off the new year last Wednesday with an 80-68 win at Nyack (N.Y.) College.

The lead seesawed between the teams in the early minutes, and about six and a half minutes in, CHC junior Trevonn Pitts (a product of Cheltenham High School) faked his defender and deposited a lay-up that nudged the home team ahead, 15-14.

A Felician counterattack began with a dunk by Justin Davis, one of six Falcons who would score in double figures. This was the beginning of a 19-9 surge by the visitors, who now threatened to go up by double figures. As a unit, the Falcons did not look quite as much like basketball players as the CHC side. Some were small, some ungainly at first glance, but they proved to be athletes who could fill the net.

The Griffins' first-year head coach J.J. Butler called time-out with 6:45 remaining in the first half, his team trailing 33-24. Play resumed on an up-note for the home team, as graduate student James Rider IV was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all of his free throws (the CACC cancelled its 2020-21 season, and players were given an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA).

With a little more than four minutes remaining in the half it was Felician who called time-out. Chestnut Hill had trimmed a few points off its deficit, and then a successful drive along the right baseline by junior Amir Warwick narrowed the gap to just three points, at 35-32.

Later, with 90 seconds left, Griffins freshman M.J. Iraldi tied the game at 37-all with a "three" from the top of the key. Over the last five minutes of the half, sophomore Nigel Haughton penetrated for three field goals and added a free throw for CHC. After the Falcons went up 39-37, he hit a lay-up to level the count at 39-39 for halftime.

Felician's Davis led all scorers with 12 points, while Warwick paced the Griffins with nine.

During the first 10 minutes of the second half, the only time either team gained more than a three-point lead came with around 11 minutes remaining. Here, a trey by Rider put Chestnut Hill up by four, at 64-60.

A pair of Felician free throws were matched by Rider to make it 66-62, then the Falcons had four different players make their way to the hoop for lay-ups. Chestnut Hill netted two free throws after this and a short jumper by the Falcons made it 72-68. CHC had gone cold from the field, though. After Rider's three-pointer with 11 to go, the Griffins went without a field goal for more than five minutes.

Pitts went coast-to-coast for a dunk to end this drought, and the hosts were back within two points (70-72) with 5:40 left to play. The clock dropped under three minutes with Chestnut Hill still behind by two, now 74-76. Felician's Jaylen Colon scored in transition, teammate Dee-End McRae cashed in on a nice inside move, and then Jay'von Jackson penetrated for another Falcons lay-up with 1:12 on the clock, spreading the score to 82-74. When Griffins sophomore Conor Regan bagged a "three" from the left wing, CHC called time-out with 46.5 seconds remaining.

In the foul bonus, Felician's Colon took two points from a one-and-one, and after the Griffins turned the ball over they fouled Colon again. He collected both points once more, with the clock now down to 26 seconds.

Behind 86-77, Chestnut Hill missed a three-point attempt but rebounded the ball to keep possession. On another errant trey by the Griffins, it was the Falcons who came down with the ball, and time ran out on the home team.

Rider finished with a team high of 16 points in the losing cause, while Haughton had 13 points and a team-leading five assists. Iraldi and Pitts contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Regan (six points) led the team in rebounds, with eight.

The Falcons received 20 points from Colon, and had 14 points apiece from McRae and from Davis, who grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

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