Men’s Hoop: St. Mike’s Falls to Chestnut Hill, 75-63

Courtesy St. Michael’s Sports Information

COLCHESTER – During its only game during a current 18-day stretch, the Saint Michael’s College men’s basketball team trailed Chestnut Hill (Pa.) College by four points with fewer than seven minutes remaining in an eventual 75-63 loss on Sunday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights, who met the Griffins for just the second time, are 1-9 this season, while the visitors improved to 5-7.

Senior Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy) paced the Purple and Gold with 15 points and seven rebounds, while junior Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy) scored a career-high 14 points with three assists off the bench, going 8-of-9 on free throws. First-year Derek Cheatom (Buffalo, N.Y./The Park School of Buffalo) added a career-best 11 points as a reserve, shooting 3-of-5 on three-pointers.

Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep) turned in eight points, junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point) snagged nine rebounds, and sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) dished off three assists. First-year Levi Holmes III (East Brunswick, N.J./Rutgers Prep) added five boards, two helpers and two steals, while senior Will Davis (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross) notched two steals in five minutes. Saint Michael’s committed only 10 turnovers.

Sophomore Edward McWade led Chestnut Hill with 21 points and seven rebounds, junior Gerald Evariste notched 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks, and senior Luke Dickson had 16 points. Classmate Noel Hightower recorded 12 points, four rejections and three helpers.

Chestnut Hill connected on 10 of its first 12 shots, including its initial six, en route to nabbing a 24-12 lead just 6:54 into the contest. Half of the points came from beyond the arc behind four three-pointers. Evariste’s lay-in still had the Griffins up by a 26-15 count with 11:48 left in the first half before the next 10 points came from Purple Knights, with Williams providing four and Cheatom capping the stretch on a triple at 7:40.

Dickson knocked down a trey with 6:44 to go to push the Chestnut Hill lead back to four, but Gaskins had six points in a 9-4 spurt that put Saint Michael’s in front 36-35, including dropping home back-to-back buckets 23 seconds apart to end the run. The Griffins responded with the final six points of the stanza, as first-year Antonio Toplyn Jr. countered Gaskins’ baskets with two of his own in a 29-seconds stretch before McWade’s lay-in made it 41-36 at 39 ticks. That score stood at the half.

The visitors increased their lead to nine points when Evariste canned two freebies 3:03 into the second half, but Williams wrapped four free throws around a Gaskins lay-in to trim the deficit to 50-47. Dickson countered with a three-pointer, and four more points from McWade pushed the margin to 10 with 11:30 remaining. Saint Michael’s made one last charge, as Gaskins and Richey knocked down jumpers around a Grippo three-pointer, bringing their squad within 57-54 at 9:02, and Bonds’ free throw had the Purple Knights trailing just 59-55 with 7:53 left.

However, five consecutive points by McWade concluded a 7-0 run, and the closest the Purple Knights came down the stretch was 68-61 on Cheatom’s three at 1:49. Hightower’s dunk-and-one kicked off a game-ending 7-2 run around Williams’ lay-in in the closing minute.

The Purple Knights break until hosting Nyack (N.Y.) College on Dec. 31 at 12 p.m.

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