If this is the year St. Francis College captures its first-ever Northeast Conference men’s basketball title, it can point to a home win over Bryant as the first step on the road to the crown.
After coming from 18 points down late in the first half to win the conference opener at Sacred Heart, the Terriers dominated from start to finish in a 63–47 victory on Jan. 5 in Brooklyn Heights, keeping Bryant’s Dyami Starks — the conference’s top scorer — in check
St. Francis — the top vote-getter in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches’ poll — opened conference play with two wins for the first time since 2011.
With star forward Jalen Cannon experiencing a rare off night, teammates Brent Jones and Tyreek Jewell carried the St. Francis offense, with Jewell delivering a game-high 15 points. Junior Amdy Fall led a suffocating defense that limited Starks to five points and his team to just 32-percent shooting, and held Bryant to its second-lowest point total of the season.
“You’d better go hard start to finish with them, because they’re very good and that kid, Starks, he can get going at any time,” said St. Francis coach Glenn Braica. “What we held Starks to, I never thought we could do that.”
Fall was a force in front of the basket as he tallied four of the Terrier’s seven blocks and gathered a team-high 10 rebounds.
“He changes the game with his shot-blocking ability,” Braica said.
After a slow start that saw St. Francis lose an early 8–7 lead when Bryant tied the score at 9–9, the Terriers exploded for 22 of the next 24 points to move ahead 31–11 on its way to a 34–20 halftime lead.
St. Francis held the Bulldogs to seven field goals in the first half, and limited Starks, who averages almost 20 points a game, to a single three-point bucket.
In the second half, Bryant closed to 54–45 with six minutes remaining on a three-pointer by Hunter Ware, who led the Bulldogs with 13 points. On the next Terrier possession, Fall jammed home a Cannon miss to extend his team’s lead to 11. Bryant (4–7, 1–1) never got closer than 12 points.
After opening the season with five straight losses, St. Francis (8–7, 2–0) has now tallied five-straight wins.
Cannon contributed eight points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Brent Jones scored 13 points while dishing out six assists, including career assist number 500. It leaves him 31 helpers behind former Terrier Greg Nunn (534) for the program’s all-time record.
Jones is also closing in on another milestone. He’s 145 points from being the first player in St. Francis history with 1,000 points and 500 assists. Like a true point guard, the Brooklyn native is only concerned with what it takes to win.
“I expect more from myself,” Jones said. “My goal right now is to win a championship for St. Francis.”