After shooting 56.4-percent from the floor, the Albertus Magnus men's basketball team defeated Saint Joseph's College of Long Island 87-84 to advance to the Second Round of the Division III NCAA Tournament. The Falcons will now play Middlebury College on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
After going ahead as much as 20 points with 12:29 left in the contest, Saint Joseph's College battled back, taking a lead with less than three minutes on the clock. A free throw by Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) with 1:18 left in the contest gave the Falcons a one-point lead before junior Arshad Jackson (Hartford, Conn.) connected on a lay-up with 26 seconds left, to put the Falcons up by three. The Eagles missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds of the game as the Falcons clinched the three-point victory.
With their 23rd-straight win, the Falcons improve to 28-1 on the year as the Eagles finish the 2011-12 season with a 21-5 overall showing.
Tonight's win marks the second all-time NCAA Tournament victory for the Falcons, with the first coming in 2009-10 when Albertus defeated then-No. 7 William Paterson 57-55 at the buzzer.
In tonight's victory, Albertus shot 56.4-percent from the floor, while connecting on 22-of-32 attempts from the free-throw line.
Ray Askew (Hamden, Conn.) recorded his 13th double-double of the season with tonight's 28-point and 12-rebound effort, while he registered 20 or more points for the 20th time of the season.
Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) also had a game-high 28 points as he shot 10-of-17 from the floor.
Jefferson Lora (Bronx, N.Y.) added 10 points and nine rebounds as his double-digit effort marked his 10th game this season. Freshman Spencer Smith (New Haven, Conn.) added eight points and six rebounds on 4-of-5 shooting.
After leading 13-11 early in the contest, the Falcons went on a 9-0 run to grab a 22-11 advantage with 11:06 left to play in the first half. The lead grew to as many as 14 before a lay-up from Zach Dugas (Monroe, Conn.) gave Albertus Magnus a 39-27 lead at the intermission.
The Falcons shot 53.3% from the floor in the first half, while St. Joseph's shot just 28.6%, going 1-15 from behind the arc.
A three from Chris Jimenez cut the Albertus Magnus lead to eight early in the second half. The Falcons extended their advantage to a game-high 20 points at 60-40 with 12:29 remaining on a bucket from Spencer Smith. The Golden Eagles chipped away, coming within 12 before the Falcons increased their lead to 17 on a basket from Darius Watson with 8:34 remaining.
Saint Joseph's went on a 16-2 run to take an 81-79 lead as it was the Eagles' first lead of the game. The Eagles had one final shot to tie the game, but a three from Jimenez was off the mark as time expired.
Eric Klingsberg paced the Eagles with 20 points off the bench. Saint Joseph's scored 31 points on 21 Albertus' turnovers, while the Falcons held a 49-32 rebounding advantage. Saint Joseph's finished the night shooting 5-of-30 behind the arc for 16.7-percent.
The Falcons will take on Middlebury on Saturday night as the Panthers are currently ranked fourth in the country according to this week's D3hoops.com Top-25 Poll. The Panthers downed Morrisville State 75-49 on Friday night in the second game of the double-header to advance into NCAA Tournament Second Round action. Middlebury is the host of this weekend's NCAA Tournament games and expects a sell-out on Saturday night.