Ellis Cooper goes for at least 20 points for fourth-straight game
RINDGE, N.H. (February 22, 2014) – Senior forward Ellis Cooper (Northampton, Mass.) topped 20 points for the fourth-consecutive game with a total of 24 to lead the Franklin Pierce University men’s basketball team to a 77-69 win over Merrimack on Saturday afternoon at The Fieldhouse in Rindge.
The Ravens won their second in a row to improve to 20-5 overall and 15-5 in the Northeast-10, while Merrimack dipped to 8-17 and 6-14 in league play.
Franklin Pierce also reached the 20-win mark for the third-consecutive season, marking the first time since the school joined the NCAA in 1988 that the feat has been accomplished. The current string is the longest since the program reeled off seven consecutive from 1979-86.
Saturday’s game also marked 2014 Senior Day for the team, as the eight-person class was honored prior to the game. Cooper was one of the eight recognized, and after a slow start offensively, picked it up with another monster performance. He finished 8-of-14 from the floor for the game, but was even better in the second 20 minutes by going 6-of-8. He also helped his cause at the free throw line by going 5-of-5 in the second half.
Joining Cooper in the double-figure scoring column was junior forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.), who had 19 points, including going 5-of-9 from three-point range. Senior frontcourt mate Adrianos Vourliotakis Perdikaris (Cholargos, Athens) logged double-figures in rebounding, as he ripped down a game-high 13.
Cooper bulldozed his way to the basket for eight points early in the second half to break open a tie game and give Franklin Pierce a 50-42 advantage with 16:48 to go.
Vilmont bombed in a triple minutes later, and Vourliotakis wasn’t too far behind with a basket that helped extend the Ravens’ advantage out to double-digits at 57-46 with a little more than 13 minutes remaining.
JT Strickland kept Merrimack in the game with seven-consecutive points, but Franklin Pierce countered with a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. Cooper aided the rally with five points, while Vilmont rained in another three ball, and senior Curtis Christian (Harlem, N.Y.) added a bucket.
Franklin Pierce shot 48 percent from the field in the second half, while holding Merrimack to just 38 percent shooting. Overall, the Ravens shot 42 percent, and helped their cause at the free throw line by converting on 81 percent of their attempts (17-of-21).
Gelvis Solano had 21 points for the Warriors in the setback, while Strickland added 15, and Kevin Regan chipped in with 12.
Merrimack gave the Ravens all they could handle in the opening 20 minutes, and Regan’s basket with 3:51 to go until halftime staked the Warriors to a 35-29 advantage. Franklin Pierce, though, cut into the deficit, thanks to a pair of layups from Ant Lessane (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and four free throws from Vilmont, to knot the score at 40-all heading into halftime.
Franklin Pierce returns to action Tuesday night when the Ravens close out the regular season by traveling to take on Bentley in Waltham, Mass. at 7:30 p.m.
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(.)