Providence, R.I. – The Albertus Magnus College men's basketball team fell to No. 14 Johnson & Wales, 86-75, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship on Saturday afternoon inside the Wildcat Center.
With the setback, the Falcons see their six-game winning streak come to an end to close out the 2015-16 season with a 20-6 overall record. The Wildcats improve to 26-2 on the year and enter the NCAA Tournament riding a five-game winning streak.
Four Falcons scored in double figures, led by junior guard Grant Ellis (Newark, N.J.) with 19 points, while forwards Shontaey Lovell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Jaqhawn Walters (Hartford, Conn.) both recorded double-doubles. Lovell earned his 17th double-double of the year thanks to an 18-point, 14-rebound performance. The freshman knocked down 7-of-11 from the field and canned all four of his free throws. Walters knifed through the Wildcat defense for 16 points and grabbed a game-high 15 boards for the guests.
Back-and-forth the two foes went early in the contest with neither team leading by more than one possesion in the first 10 minutes of play. Early on, Lovell and senior guard Marc Wilson (Jersey City, N.J.) paced the Falcon attack with the team's first eight points.
With 8:01 left in the first half, Johnson & Wales senior guard Tom Garrick connected on trey from the wing to give the hosts a 28-26 edge. The Wildcats would not trail for the remainder of the frame, stretching their lead to as many as 13. JWU used a 10-0 run capped by a Garrick lay in to lead, 43-30, with 2:44 left in the half. Albertus answered the bell and held the hosts scoreless after Garrick's basket, reeling off seven straight points to trail, 43-37 at the break.
In the first stanza, the two-headed attack of Garrick and senior guard Quarry Greenaway combined for 33 points for Johnson & Wales. The Falcons were led in the opening 20 minutes by Ellis with 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting from deep, while Lovell added 10 on 4-of-5 shooting.
After halftime the teams again traded baskets early with the guests pulling to within two at 50-48 following a layup by freshman guard Ryan Pittman (Stratford, Conn.) with 15:43 left in regulation. The Wildcats would answer the Falcon surge to take a double digit advantage with an 18-2 run capped by a Greenaway steal and lay in midway through the stanza.
Down the stretch, the Falcons woulld rally to pull within single digits. Albertus Magnus used an 8-0 spurt capped by a steal and a trey from sophomore guard Chaunce Dunbar (South Windsor, Conn.) to pull within eight at 73-65 with 3:47 left in the game.
The late Falcon flurry would fall short as Garrick stretched the JWU lead back to double digits with under two minutes left in the game with an old-fashioned three-point play. AMC would not go away however, as Wilson and Walters would score on back-to-back possesions to pull the guests to within seven at 78-71 with 1:03 left.
Albertus Magnus was unable to convert on the offensive end during the last minute minute and the Wildcats knocked down their free throws to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
In what could be his final game in an Albertus uniform, Wilson netted 15 points to go along with two steals.
Offensively, Garrick and Greenaway combined to score 63 of the host's 86 points. Garrick poured in a game-high 33 thanks to knocking down 4-of-7 from deep, while Greenaway scored 29 courtesy of a 13-of-13 showing from the charity stripe.
Albertus Magnus sees its four-year run as GNAC Champions and 14-game GNAC Tournament winning streak come to an end.
Following the contest, Wilson and Walters were named to the GNAC All-Tournament Team.