Written by Jonny Stevens
It was a day for Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) in more ways than one as he not only scored a career-high 36 points but was recognized for his Senior Day as well 2,000th career point as the Albertus Magnus College men's basketball team defeated the Emmanuel Saints 95-78 on Saturday afternoon.
The Falcons have also won 38-straight home games, the current longest NCAA men's basketball home winning streak.
The contest started fast paced as both teams showcased their athleticism. Watson knocked down a jumper in the first possession and the game was stopped as he was celebrated in scoring his 2,001st point of his career. In the first minutes of action, Tieron Jackson (West Haven, Conn.) dished a no look pass to Lemar Larsen (Waterbury, Conn.) who looked to slam it home but was defended by the back rim. Larsen got his revenge on the very next play as Jackson floated it up for Larsen who threw it down with a vengeance.
After gaining a 12-point lead with 10:24 left to go in the half, Emmanuel guard Kyle Smith looked to take matters into his own hands knocking down two consecutive three-pointers to bring the game to 24-18.
Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) got involved late in the half as the Falcons busted open a 15-point lead with just 2:00 left to play. Ljuljdjuraj rejected four shots for Albertus.
For Jackson, finding the open man seemed like a common theme throughout the first half recording nine assists in the frame. The Falcons had 10 total assists as a team.
Watson was on fire in the first half hitting all seven of his shots, three of them being from beyond the arc. Watson led all scorers with 20 points.
John Clay and Smith scored 22 points combined and Emmanuel's bench contributed 15 of their own.
With 0:40 left in the first half, Jackson looked around for a teammate but as the shot clock was winding down, he shot a deep three and buried it to put the Falcons up by 14. The scored ended 48-34 in favor of the Falcons to end the first half.
Emmanuel College came out strong in the second half opening the frame with a 7-0 run. Clay powered the Saints with five of those points.
Watson started right where he left off in the first half scoring in high volumes. Instead of shooting from the perimeter, Watson took his defenders on, driving to the basket and making the Saints pay from the free-throw line. Watson was 11 for 14 from the line.
Junior center Marcus Walker (Newark, N.J.) had a humongous game off the bench after Ljuljdjuraj was banged up and in foul trouble. Walker scored nine total points and snatched six rebounds. Two of these rebounds being big offensive put backs for the Falcons.
Emmanuel kept chipping away at the lead as the Saints' free throw shooting kept them in the game. With 10:12 left in the game, Smith hit a huge three-pointer to bring the game to one point at 63-62. This was the closest margin for the Saints since being down 4-2 in the opening moments.
Watson and the Falcons regrouped and kept their composure. Adjustments were made to Emmanuel's 1-2-2 half court trap and the Falcons went on a very important 10-0 run followed by a 6-1 run. The Falcons took an 89-73 lead with a little under four minutes to play and put the Saints in their rear view.
The second half was really down to free throw shooting, both teams shooting less than 25 field goals in the second half. The Falcons shot 82.1% for the game from the free throw line making 32 of 39 shots. The Saints shot 86.7% for the game from the line making 26 of 30. Although the Saints had the edge in free throw shooting, the Falcons had the edge on the scoreboard as the final score was 95-78.
Watson had a day that was very fitting for the occasion. On his final regular season home game as an Albertus Magnus Falcon, Watson scored a career-high 36 points. He was 11 for 14 from the floor and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Watson added five rebounds and an assist to his total.
Jackson also got into the career-high action as he recorded 13 total assists for the game. He added two rebounds and 13 points to complete a double-double for the game.
The Albertus Magnus Falcons improve to 23-2 overall and 17-1 in the GNAC, while the Emmanuel Saints fall to 6-19 overall and 4-14 in the GNAC.
Albertus will host the quarterfinals for the GNAC Tournament this Tuesday, February 25th at 7:00 P.M. at the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center in New Haven, Conn.