#16 Men's Basketball Opens Second Half of Season with 68-65 Loss at AIC

#16 Men's Basketball Opens Second Half of Season with 68-65 Loss at AIC

Ellis Cooper with game-high 26 points in setback

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (January 8, 2014) – Senior forward Ellis Cooper (Northampton, Mass.) threw in a game-high 26 points, but it wasn’t enough as American International scored seven of the game’s final points to pull off a 68-65 upset win over the No. 16 nationally ranked Franklin Pierce University men’s basketball team on Wednesday night in Springfield, Mass.

The Ravens, who were playing for the first time in nearly a month, had their six-game winning streak snapped in falling to 11-2 overall and 6-2 in the Northeast-10, while the Yellow Jackets improved to 6-8 and 3-4 in league play.

Freshman guard Donte Gittens’ (Hartford, Conn.) layup with 2:28 left put the Ravens up 65-64 and answered a Bobby Harris three just moments before. However, AIC scored the final four points, keyed by another Harris triple with 1:19 to go, and capped with a Mark Ellis Jr. free throw on the next possession to make it a three-point game. The final minute of the contest saw neither side score, as the Ravens went 0-for-4 in trying to pull off the come-from-behind win.

Harris and Spencer Braithwaite each chipped in with 11 points for AIC, while Janek Schmidkunz paced all Yellow Jacket scorers with 12. Marcus Porter rounded out the double-figure scoring attack for AIC with 10 points.

American International shot a solid 45 percent from the floor, while the Ravens converted on just 40 percent of their attempts.

The Yellow Jackets were outstanding behind the arc, knocking down 10 triples, while Franklin Pierce could not maintain the pace by converting on just 5-of-19 attempts.

Junior forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.) followed Cooper with 14 points, while senior Adrianos Vourliotakis Perdikaris (Cholargos, Athens) narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Before the back-and-forth play in the closing minutes of the game, the Ravens had to mount a rally early in the second half to get back into it. Franklin Pierce trailed 54-45 with 9:46 left, but a dunk from Gittens sparked the Ravens to score 10 of the next 12 points to pull within one. Cooper added a three-point play, Vilmont hit one from long range, and Gittens slammed home another basket to cap the rally and make things interesting.

American International had led by double-digits early in the second stanza, following their 34-26 lead at halftime.

Franklin Pierce returns to action Saturday when the Ravens play host to Saint Rose at 3:30 p.m. in The Fieldhouse.

For more information on Franklin Pierce men’s basketball, please visit the team’s page at http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu. To follow the program even further, please visit Franklin Pierce Athletics on YouTube (www.youtube.com/FranklinPierceSports), Twitter (www.twitter.com/FPUathletics) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce men’s basketball apparel can do so on the athletic department’s online store at http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store(.)