NEWBURGH – Junior Kendall Francis led four players in double-figures with a team-high 17 points as the Mount Saint Mary College Men’s Basketball team opened the 2018-19 season with a hard fought 73-68 home win over visiting Manhattanville.
After falling behind by three points in the early going, the Knights ripped off a 15-2 run covering nearly four minutes to surge in front 17-7 with 12:33 left to play before halftime. The Mount went 7-for-8 from the floor over the run and received scoring from five different players, including five points from Francis.
The Knights grabbed their second double-figure advantage of the half on a Francis triple that moved them in front 24-14 and did not allow the Valiants closer than four points over the final 62 seconds of the opening frame. A Chris Mikos free-throw and a pair of free-throws from Jaiden Melendez pushed the Mount in front 37-30 at the break.
Both teams shot better than 46-percent from the floor in the opening half, with the Knights going 13-for-28 from the floor overall. The big advantage came at the free-throw line, where the Knights outscored the Valiants 8-0 over the opening 20 minutes.
Both teams opened the second half sluggish, before the Knights broke the ice with an Ethan Fox conversion to move the Mount in front by nine points. The Knights never trailed in the second half and moved in front by a game-high 12 points on a Melendez conversion with 8:17 left in regulation time.
The Mount kept the Valiants behind by at least five points until a JoJo Cobbs jumper got them to within three with 4:44 to play. Manhattanville fought to within 70-68 on a Cobbs triple with 19 seconds left, but a 3-for-4 effort from the free-throw line down the stretch sealed the win for the Knights.
The Mount improved to 54.5-percent shooting after halftime, while Manhattanville held a 5-1 advantage in three-pointers after the break. Jobbs scored 18 points after the intermission for the Valiants on 8-for-13 shooting.
Francis finished the night 7-for-15 from the floor, including a pair of triples, on his way to the team-high point total. He closed the night with four rebounds and an assist. Connor Bacci used a 9-for-11 effort from the line to reach 13 points with Paul Sienke and Melendez each totaling 13 points.
Tristan Millett led the Mount with six rebounds in the game with Bacci finishing off a strong night with two assists and three steals.
Cobbs led all scorers in the game with 20 points on 9-for-17 shooting, with Mike Granda hitting four triples on his way to 13 points. Connor Yetmann led all players with seven rebounds, with four players matching the game-high with three assists.
Mount Saint Mary finished the game shooting an even 50-percent overall, including a 4-for-8 from three-point range. The Knights outscored the visitors from the free-throw line 19-5 and 21-11 in points off of turnovers.