Gittens hits memorable shot in his collegiate debut
MANSFIELD, Pa. (November 9, 2013) – Freshman guard Donte Gittens (Hartford, Conn.) made quite the collegiate debut on Saturday as he drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Franklin Pierce University men’s basketball team a thrilling 74-71 season-opening win over Mansfield at Decker Gymnasium in Mansfield, Pa.
The Ravens improved to 1-0 and won for the sixth time in the last eight games dating back to the end of last season, which saw them win the NCAA East Regional Championship and advance to the Elite Eight. Mansfield dipped to 0-1.
Gittens’ three came after he had sat on the bench for the previous 12 minutes after picking up his fourth personal foul with 12:31 remaining. At the time he checked out of the game, the Ravens held a 58-44 lead and things looked to be going in their favor.
The Mountaineers, however, had other ideas and stormed back, eventually knotting the score at 71-71 with :22 left on a layup from Joe Bell.
Franklin Pierce called timeout after crossing the timeline, set up a play in the huddle, and reinserted Gittens back into the lineup, who took a skip pass from junior forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.) and coolly dropped in the triple as the final buzzer was sounding.
It was part of a steady performance for the rookie, who had five points, six assists, three rebounds, and a steal in 17 minutes of action. More importantly, he took care of the basketball by committing just one turnover.
Gittens’ six assists were made possible by the outstanding finishing touch of Vilmont and senior forward Ellis Cooper (Northampton, Mass.), as the duo each went for a team-high 21 points. Cooper notched a double-double with 12 rebounds, while Vilmont was a solid 8-of-11 from the field, and collected seven boards in the process. Senior guard Curtis Christian (Harlem, N.Y.) was the third Raven to reach double-figures in scoring, as he dropped in 10 points coming off the bench.
Charles Becoats led three Mountaineers who scored in double-figures, as he netted a game-high 24 points on the strength of five three’s. Charles Pemberton and Onyema Utti followed with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Franklin Pierce shook off a rusty start to the game, and closed out the first half on a sizzling 10-0 run to go from a 34-29 deficit to a 39-34 advantage at halftime. Vilmont hit a driving layup to kick-start the rally, and Cooper aided it with five points on a pair of layups and free throw. Senior guard Andre Blackwood (Paterson, N.J.) knocked down a jumper in the final minute to send the Ravens to the locker room with the five-point edge.
Franklin Pierce came out firing early in the second half, and got a pair of layups from Christian to go along with a deep three-ball from Blackwood on consecutive possessions to open up a 52-41 lead 14:55 to go.
Franklin Pierce’s lead continued to hover around double-digits for nearly the remainder of the game, but Mansfield made things interesting late by scoring 12 of 14 points over a five-minute span to pull within 66-64 with 3:59 left. Utti highlighted the run with five points.
Bell scored five-consecutive points in the waning seconds -- including the tying layup with a little more than 20 seconds remaining -- before Gittens stepped up with the winning triple.
Franklin Pierce returns to action Sunday when the Ravens take on the University of the District of Columbia at 3:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C.
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(.)