By D.J. Bevivino
NEWBURGH – The Mount Saint Mary College Knights (5-12, 3-5 Skyline) clawed their way to a hard-fought 80-72 victory over the University of Mount Saint Vincent Dolphins (6-11, 4-3 Skyline) on Saturday afternoon at the Elaine & William Kaplan Recreation Center. The win provides a much-needed boost to their conference record.
“Good home win today,” Head Coach Ryan Kadlubowski said. “We grinded out a tough victory and I’m very happy with how we responded after giving up the lead in the second half. Hopefully we can continue to build off this win and string some together.”
Both teams traded baskets and the lead throughout the first half, with the Knights holding a slim 32-30 advantage at the break. The Dolphins opened the second half with a quick run to take the lead, but the Knights refused to back down. Led by Ryan Graham’s game-high 26 points, MSMC battled back and eventually pulled ahead for good midway through the second half.
Graham was a force both inside and outside, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. He also chipped in with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Elijah Barnett added 20 points for the Knights, while Connor Cyran contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Knights’ defense proved to be the difference in the game, as they held the Dolphins to just 43.8% shooting in the second half. MSMC also forced 15 turnovers and out rebounded the Dolphins 46-41.
“Our defense was really strong in the second half,” Coach Kadlubowski said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and I thought we did a much better job of containing their shooters. We also rebounded the ball well, which gave us some extra opportunities offensively.”
The Knights will look to carry their momentum into their next game, a home contest against St. Joseph’s University-Long Island on Tuesday evening.