New Haven, Conn. – Freshman Shontaey Lovell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to lead the Albertus Magnus College men's basketball team past visiting Purchase State, 101-84, on Friday night in non-conference action at The Nest inside the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center. The 6-5 forward was a force in the post, dishing out a team-high five assists and blocking four shots on the defensive end.
In the season opener for both squads, the rule changes this year were evident in the 65 fouls called. Both the Falcons and the Panthers had multiple players foul out.
The victory marked the 58th consecutive for Albertus Magnus on its home floor, which is the best active streak at any level in the NCAA.
Over the first four minutes of action, the two teams traded baskets as the score was knotted at six. The hosts responded with swarming defense and up-tempo offense to run off 15 of the next 17 points to hold a 21-8 edge following a pair of free throws from sophomore forward Jaqhawn Walters (Hartford, Conn.).
The Albertus lead remained double digits until a 9-0 Purchase run capped by a layup from junior guard Michael Pelham brought the Panthers to within one at 28-27 with just under eight minutes left in the opening half. After trading baskets, the Falcons reeled off 12 points a row, forcing six turnovers during the spurt.
The hosts closed the half strong, taking a 52-41 advantage into halftime. The lead would have been bigger, but Purchase sophomore guard Max Pearce beat the buzzer with a deep three ball.
In the first five minutes of the second half, the guests swapped buckets with the Falcons to keep the game close. Albertus Magnus broke open a nine-point game with five straight points to build a 14-point lead with 13 minutes left in regulation. During the run, Lovell converted an old fashioned three-point play and Walters turned an offensive rebound into a layup for the Falcons.
Through the remainder of the game, Purchase was never able to close the gap and the Falcons gave Head Coach Mitch Oliver his 168th career victory.
Offensively, four Falcons scored in double figures led by Lovell. Walters had his best collegiate game, pouring in 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds. Freshman guard Ryan Pittman (Stratford, Conn.) added 15 points and four assists, while sophomore wing Chaunce Dunbar (Windsor, Conn.) netted 12 points thanks to knocking down a pair of shots from beyond the arc.
It was a balanced attack for the Panthers with three players scoring in double figures. Senior forward Taylor Foster paced the Purchase attack with a double-double off the bench. Foster poured in 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Senior guard Creig Graves added 14 points courtesy of a 9-of-10 performance from the free-throw line, while senior guard Jose Reyes recorded 12 points and four assists.
From the charity stripe, Albertus Magnus shot a little over 63 percent (26-41) and Purchase knocked down 64 percent of its attempts (27-42). The Falcons shot an impressive 53 percent from the field, while their high-pressure defense held the Panthers to just over 39 percent shooting.
Albertus held a big advantage in points in the paint, 58-34, thanks to their high-octane fast break offense.
Albertus Magnus returns to action on Wednesday, November 18, with a road non-conference clash versus in-state foe Mitchell at 6:00 pm.