Berkeley College men's basketball program honors seven seniors, then rallies from seven point deficit to win by seven, 60-53

The Berkeley College of New York men’s basketball team put forth a spirited comeback Tuesday evening, rallying from a seven point halftime deficit to defeat the Bengals of the University of Maine Fort Kent on Senior Day by a score of 60-53 at the Wellness Center on the campus of the College of New Rochelle. The victory was the third straight for the Knights, who improved their record to 13-8 on the year, while the Bengals dipped to a mark of 7-18.

Prior to the contest, the Berkeley College Athletics Department took a few moments to honor seven seniors – including Elijah Craig, Yang Zhang, Mario Guzman, Richard Rampersad, Danzel Whyte, Jovan Bovell, and Alex Loniakan – in a special pregame ceremony. Head Coach Chris Christiansen took the microphone and said a few heartfelt words about each of his seniors, and Director of Athletics Andy DeStephano presented all of the aforementioned student-athletes with a commemorative plaque to thank them for their years of dedication to the Berkeley College of New York men’s basketball program.

When the game began, a pumped-up Knights team converted on six of its first seven attempts from the floor in the process of building an early 14-6 advantage. Bovell scored eight of those first 14 points for his squad. A pair of made free throws by Rampersad, and a converted layup by Craig upped Berkeley’s lead to 12 at 18-6 with 13:38 remaining in the opening session.

From there, the first half belonged to the Bengals. The University of Maine Fort Kent put together a 13-0 run over the ensuing 5:12 (the Knights were 0-for-9 from the floor during this stretch) to take a 19-18 lead. Later on in the stanza, the game was tied at 24 apiece with 2:37 left in opening session, and the Bengals closed out the period on a 7-0 run to take a 31-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Knights came out a completely different team to start the second half, as Berkeley opened up the session with a spark, outscoring the Bengals 15-3 in the opening 5:14 of the frame to take a 39-34 lead. Berkeley continued to press the Bengals, and the Knights were exemplifying good shot selection by moving the ball and getting good looks.

Later on, with 7:49 remaining, Berkeley was holding its biggest lead of the game – a 54-43 advantage. The Bengals refused to quit though, going on a 17-11 run from there to pull to within five points (65-60) with 2:18 remaining in the game. The Knights would buckle down though, connecting on five free throw attempts and not allowing another U.M.F.K. field goal the rest of the way in holding on for a seven point victory.

In the win for the Knights, the seniors truly put on a show, with Bovell leading the way as he scored a game-high 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Craig chipped in with 12 points, and game-highs in rebounds with nine and blocks with seven, and two steals. Guzman finalized his evening with 12 points and four rebounds, and freshman Ahmed Dickerson added 10 points and four caroms off of the bench.

Despite the loss for the University of Maine Fort Kent, the Bengals were led by sophomore guard Fred Sanchez who knocked down all seven of his free throw attempts and drained three of his four shots from downtown while finishing with 18 points and three assists. Junior guard Jorge Matesanz added 17 points and five rebounds, and junior forward Jeremy Bishop contributed with 14 points, five rebounds, and two blocked shots.

The Knights held an edge in shooting percentage, connecting on 41.2 percent of their attempts from the floor (28-68) compared to 36.5 percent for the Bengals (19-52). Berkeley out-rebounded the University of Maine Fort Kent 41-32, while also swatting seven shots (all by Craig) compared to four for the visitors. Berkeley also held an 11-5 edge in the steals department.

Berkeley College completes its regular season portion of the schedule tomorrow evening when the Knights battle Pratt Institute in a Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game in Brooklyn, New York. Start-time for the game is scheduled for 7:30pm.