Michael Costeines – Special to The Southern News –
The Owls men’s basketball team (8-4, 5-3 NE-10) battled back from an 11-point deficit to edge fourteenth ranked Franklin Pierce (9-3, 6-2 NE-10) 68-65 at Moore Field House last Wednesday. The Owls scored 20 of the final 26 points of the game to ultimately defeat the visiting Ravens.
Senior Trevon Hamlet paced the Owls with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, adding seven rebounds. Redshirt senior Rashamell Vereen chipped in with a career high 17 points on 7-10 shooting off the bench. Vereen’s production off the bench outscored the entire Raven bench 17-12.
“It was a key conference win for us at home and we were very aggressive from the get go,” Vereen said. “I used my aggressive play to get to the basket and we came out with the win at the end. It was a total team effort and I provided a strong showing.”
Vereen’s three-point field goal with 3:20 remaining in the game, followed by a pair of free throws minutes later, secured the Owls eighth win of the season. The Owls defeated the Ravens despite only four points on 2-9 shooting from the team’s second leading scorer, Greg Langston.
Hamlet’s all-around effort included a team high eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks to extend his conference lead in that category to 31. Twelve of his 19 points came in the second half, including a physical baseline layup. Hamlet was fouled on the play, and executed on his free throw opportunity with 6:28 remaining, to spark the rally.
“I think we wanted it more than them in all facets of the game,” Hamlet said. “We imposed ourselves on them because we really wanted to have this win. If you look at the work we did it, especially on the defensive end late. I think it’s pretty obvious we wanted this one a little bit more.”
The Ravens controlled most of the first part of the second half, swelling the lead to 11 after a back and forth affair up to that point. The largest lead of the half came very early with an eight-point advantage for Franklin Pierce. Going forward, the Raven lead trimmed, culminating with a 36-34 lead for the Owls.
Sophomores Tylon Smith and Luke Houston scored seven points each to stable an evenly matched first half.
The win came despite a size differential in favor of the Ravens, as two of team’s frontcourt players, Elllis Cooper and Adrianos Vourliotakis Perdikaris scored 19 points each.
“Our conference is one of the toughest leagues in the entire country for our division, but it’s just another league win as far as I’m concerned,” said Head Coach Mike Donnelly. “Franklin Pierce is a great team, but it’s only as good as our next game. Our body of work has yet to be complete and teams like UMASS-Lowell, Assumption and others are wins that can be built upon from tonight. I would believe a win like this gives our team the kind of quality confidence that can be used moving forward for the rest of the season and into our conference tournament.”