Blue Knights Outlast Utica in Double Overtime

UTICA – Junior Kendall Francis matched his career-high with 34 points and led five different players in double-figures as the Mount Saint Mary College Men’s Basketball team held off Utica 95-89 in double-overtime. The win is the Mount’s fourth straight and seventh in eight outings thus far.

After a back-and-forth opening four minutes, the Mount surged in front 20-11 following a 12-3 spurt capped off by a Tristan Millett bucket at the midway point of the opening period. The lead grew to double-figures on a Paul Sienke basket that put the Mount in front 25-14 with 6:54 left before halftime.

After the Pioneers climbed back to within 25-19 on a Darius Hopkins triple, the Knights broke the game open with a 16-0 run that pushed the lead to 41-19 on a Millett lay-in with 68 seconds left before halftime. The Pioneers broke their scoreless drought with 39 seconds left before the break, but a pair of Francis free-throws sent the Mount to the intermission with a 43-21 advantage.

Mount Saint Mary shot a blistering 56.7-percent from the floor in the first half and knocked down four three-pointers. The Knights’ defense held Utica to just under 28-percent shooting prior to halftime and a 1-for-16 effort from three-point range.

Mount Saint Mary never trailed in the second half, but was forced to withstand a Utica run that saw it slice its deficit to a single point twice in the final 1:25. The Pioneers put together a 30-13 stretch that saw them climb to within 68-67 on a Tyler Jollie four-point play and got to within a point again in the final 34 seconds on a pair of Kimedrick Murphy free-throws.

The Knights got back out in front by two on a Jameson Morton free-throw, but a lay-in from Shawn Gashi got things leveled at 71-71 with 14 seconds remaining in regulation time.

The Mount got off to a quick start in the first overtime period and surged in front 75-71 on back-to-back lay-ins from Ethan Fox, but then went over three minutes without a field goal.

The Mount held the advantage until a Murphy bucket and missed free-throw ended the first extra session in a 79-79 tie.

Mount Saint Mary scored the first 10 points of the second overtime, with Francis and Sienke accounting for all the scoring. Utica rallied back to within four points, but could not get closer the rest of the way. The Knights finished the second overtime 5-for-6 from the floor, including a perfect 2-for-2 effort from three-point range.

Francis finished with at least 30 points in a game for the third time in the last five games. He matched his career-high after going 11-for-25 from the floor, including a 7-for-13 effort from bonus distance and a 5-for-8 showing from the charity stripe. He added five rebounds and a pair of assists to the winning effort.

Morton reached double-figures for the for the third time this season, finishing with 19 tallies on 5-for-9 shooting and a 7-for-8 effort from the free-throw line. He added five rebounds and a trio of assists for the Knights. Sienke continued his solid play with 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

Millett rounded out the victory with a career-high 10 points to go along with six rebounds and team-highs in assists with five and steals with three. Fox reached double-figures for the first time this season with 10 points, adding seven boards.

After being held to 33.3-percent shooting in the second half, the Mount rebounded to shoot 72.7-percent in the two overtime periods to finish the game at 50.8-percent overall. The Knights went 10-for-24 from behind the arc, but struggled from the free-throw line, shooting just 59.4-percent.

Utica, who shot 38.1-percent overall and 22.2-percent from bonus distance, was led by 26 points from Gashi on the day. The Pioneers dominated second chance points, 20-1, while the Knights controlled points off of turnovers, 27-11.

At 7-1 overall on the season, Mount Saint Mary is off until taking on #21 Christopher Newport to open the Crowne Plaza Captains Shootout on December 28. Tip-off with the host Captains in Newport News, Va. is set for 6:00 p.m.

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