EASTON, Mass. (November 25, 2014) – Junior guard Tyler Iacuone (Mahopac, N.Y.) played closer on Tuesday night, as his last-second free throw sent the Franklin Pierce University Ravens over the top in a come from behind win over the previously undefeated Stonehill College Skyhawks by a final score of 77-76. Senior forward Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pa.) helped climb the Ravens out of the early hole by heating up in the second half, finishing with 23 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, the Ravens improve to 4-2 on the season (2-0 Northeast-10) and remain undefeated in league play. With the loss, Stonehill now steps into the loss column for the first time with an overall record of 4-1 (1-1 Northeast-10).
The Ravens began the game ice cold, dropping off the table early as shots just would not fall for the crimson and gray. A usually strong shooting team from behind the arc, the Ravens only shot slightly over 17 percent in the first half (3-17) from long distance, and only ended up shooting just over 36 percent for the half. Sophomore Donte Gittens (Hartford, Conn.) had the only steady hand for the Ravens, ending the first half with eight points on 4-8 shooting. Between the starters of Vilmont, Iacuone and senior Paul Becklens (Boston, Mass.), the trio combined for 12 first-half points.
On the contrary, Stonehill shot lights out, shooting just about 50 percent from the field, behind the arc, and from the free throw line. Carter Smith and Jack Cole each paced the Skyhawks into the locker room at the half with Stonehill holding a 36-29 lead.
Much of the same would happen through the second half, as the Ravens couldn't get much going offensively, and Stonehill began to pull away, eventually opening up their largest margin of 14 points with 11:51 to play in the game.
Then everything clicked, as Franklin Pierce came out firing and cut the lead to four points in just under two minutes. Iacuone hit two threes in a row, while Gittens also made one drop. Becklens also tossed in a layup to cut the deficit that would bounce around for the next few minutes, as Cole and Smith did all they could for Stonehill to keep the Ravens at bay, opening up a lead back to double digits with about 7:51 to play.
Then, in stepped Vilmont who found his hot hand. Behind him were Iacuone and Becklens, who also found their rhythm on the hardwood, and the Ravens charged back. Vilmont would hit two threes in a row, and also hit two free throws to bring the Ravens within two points with 5:48 to play. After a turnover on the pursuing possession by Stonehill, the Ravens came down the floor, as this time Vilmont fed the ball off to Becklens, who drained the go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Ravens their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
The lead would continue to swap in the closing minutes of the game, with the duos of Vilmont/Iacuone and Cole/Smith leading both teams hitting all shots necessary to stay in the game. Vilmont would hit his sixth and final three-pointer of the night with 1:39 to play, giving the Raven's the slight three-point advantage. However, Stonehill would turn to Carter Smith once more a few possessions later, as he drained a game-tying three pointer of his own to being the score to 76-76 with 39 seconds remaining.
Franklin Pierce would have their chance to win it, and it almost looked like it wouldn't happen. Becklens would drive to the hoop with five seconds to go, and get blocked by Jack Cole underneath. The block however, would go out of bounds, setting up the play for Iacuone. The inbound in would find the Raven guard, immediately would go up, and get fouled by Carter Smith with 0.7 seconds remaining, sending Iacuone to the line for the win.
Vilmont's 23 points would be the fourth time out of the six games the Ravens have played this season. Iacuone would finish with a second-best 16 points, while Becklens finished with a solid all-around night of 14 points and 7 assists. Gittens would also finish strong with 13 points, four assists and three rebounds.
For Stonehill, Cole (22) and Smith (20) led the way, combining for 42 of Stonehill's points, while Cole also finished with 10 rebounds, giving him a double-double on the night. Smith would dish out a team-high five assists, while Ryan Logan quietly contributed with 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Daniel Brix would also reach double-digit scoring for the Skyhawks, shooting a perfect 4-4 from the floor, including two three-pointers.
The Ravens return to the floor after the holiday break to take on Mansfield at home at the Fieldhouse on Sunday, November 30 at 3 p.m.
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).