By D.J. Bevivino
NEWBURGH – The temperature outside may be freezing here at the Mount, but in the gym, things were heated in a back-and-forth battle between the Knights and the Saint Joseph University Golden Eagles. Coming off this past weekend’s conference win, MSMC was feeling good coming into the game.
The first half was opened up by Ryan Graham, a sign of things to come, getting the Knights on the board early. The team shot 14-32 in the first half from the floor and 5-17 from beyond the line. The game was a battle, with the score tied 9 times during the match, and the lead was exchanged 18 times throughout. The game was coming down to the wire. The score was tied 70-70, the Mount was on a fast break, chances at the rim were missed, and the ball fell off the Golden Eagles, leaving it Mount ball with 12 seconds left. The ball was passed in bounds and moved around; Elijah Barnett had a chance to win the game at the buzzer. As the final horn sounded, the ball was bouncing on the rim as if in slow motion, ricocheting out of the basket. Tie game, overtime.
Coach Kadlubowski brought the men to the sideline and preached energy and seizing the moment. Ryan Graham heard every word. When overtime started, Graham went to work. Immediately answering a St. Joe’s basket with a three-point bucket. Then back down the floor and once again found himself behind the line and knocked down another three. In such a big moment, this was an impressive start, but he wasn’t done. The very next possession, Graham knocked down another three. Now up 79-72, the Golden Eagles made a bucket to get the score within 5. But R. Graham felt the moment, and back down the floor, he buried a two. Knights were up by 7. Elijah Barnett made two free throws to extend the lead before Ryan Graham drained the last bucket, making 13 of the 15 points in OT.
“Tonight’s victory was a complete team effort and a huge win for us. In overtime, my teammates did a fantastic job creating opportunities for me, and I was able to knock them down,” said Ryan Graham post-game. Ryan led the team in points (19), shooting 8-12 and 3-5 from beyond the three. Jayden Figueroa followed up with 14 points of his own and 8 rebounds.
After the game, Coach Kad had this to say: “Great gritty win, it was a battle by both teams. We were able to hit some big shots in OT playing team ball. Tonight, we played well against a good opponent and were able to get the job done. Right now, we need to keep focused and keep stringing these wins together.”
The Knights have won 3 of the last 4 games and are going to look to keep that energy and momentum going as they enjoy a 6-day rest before they take on the Valiants from Manhattanville College on Jan 24th at 8 pm here at the Mount.