QUEENS, N.Y. (November 17, 2014) – With the spotlight on in a packed Carnesseca Arena, the Franklin Pierce University Men's Basketball team played Division I and Big East member, St. John's University on their home floor in front of a national television audience in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Not only did the Ravens play, they competed. Not only did they compete, they had the lead at halftime over a Division I team. However, the Franklin Pierce Ravens fell to the St. John's (N.Y.) Red Storm by a final score of 94-81.
With the loss, the Ravens fall to 2-1 (0-0 Northeast-10), while St. John's improves to 2-0 (0-0 Big East). Franklin Pierce has another game in the NIT Season Tip-Off this week, as they travel to Univ. of Minnesota on Thursday night. Opening tip is set for 8 p.m. (EST) at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Ravens came out firing on all cylinders, thanks in part to 11 straight points from senior forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.), who knocked down his first five shots of the night for a total of 13 points 12 minutes into the ballgame. The Ravens would take a seven-point, 50-43 lead into halftime. However, Franklin Pierce was unable to contain 2013-14 All-Big East First team selection, senior guard D'Angelo Harrison, who fired off 31 points, including 20 points in the second half alone en route to a 20-point run out of halftime to shut down the Ravens.
Vilmont was superb in the first half, ending with 21 points on 8-13 shooting, including 5-8 from behind the 3-point line, and six rebounds. Senior guard Paul Becklens (Boston, Mass.) was right there with Vilmont, adding a solid 8 at the half to supplement four assists. Sophomore guard Donte Gittens (Hartford, Conn.) put up a solid performance, thriving as the offensive facilitator with 10 points, four rebounds, three block, two assists, and a steal. The Ravens would shoot 54.5 percent from the field in part to Vilmont's hot hand, and would lead the whole way through in the first half. Highlighted by the hot shooting and two Gittens blocks, the half was capped off by a buzzer-beating layup by Becklens to send the Ravens into the locker room up by seven.
The glory of a halftime lead was quickly diminished by St. John's, who came out flying. The Red Storm would zip off 20 straight points to turn the tables on the crimson and grey, taking a 13-point lead. Harrison looked to take the halftime deficit to heart, as he fired off his streak of three's and established paint dominance. His 31 point, 17 rebounds would top all players on the night for his first double-double of the season. Sophomore Rysheed Jordan would help the St. John cause by kicking in a 19 point, eight rebound, six assist performance, while senior Phil Greene IV poured in 18 as well.
"If you would have told me it would be this kind of game and we would lead at halftime, I would have taken it," said Ravens Head Coach David Chadbourne. "They [St.John's] picked up their intensity, and we didn't quite get the same looks [in the second half], and credit to them. They picked it up and played well in the second half."
Vilmont would also corral 10 rebounds to record his second double-double in as many days, while junior Tyler Iacuone (Mahopac, N.Y.) would play a solid game defensively while chipping in seven points. The Franklin Pierce defense would also cause the St. John's offense to commit more turnovers than the Ravens throughout the game. However, the Ravens shortcomings in the second half would be the lack of offensive production and turnovers. Franklin Pierce would shoot 33.3 percent from the field, and 3-12 from behind the arc. The Ravens wouldn't score their first field goal until 10:08 remaining into the game, and were also heavily outscored in the paint and on the fast break. St. John's would own a 44-26 point advantage in the paint, while the Red Storm would also outscore the Ravens 21-0 on the fast break.
Chadbourne added, "It's great and it's an unbelievable opportunity for us…it's great experience for us and great exposure for our program."
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce basketball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).