McDevitt carries early load, finishes with 21
RINDGE, N.H. (February 3, 2016) – After being held scoreless in the first half on Wednesday night, junior guard Matt Banton (Brooklyn, N.Y.) poured in 24 second-half points in the Fieldhouse to finish as the game's leading scorer and lead the Franklin Pierce University men's basketball team to a dramatic, come-from-behind victory. The Ravens trailed by as many as 17 in the second half, but surged for a 79-76 win over Saint Anselm in Northeast-10 Conference play.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 12-8 (9-6 Northeast-10), while Saint Anselm falls to 17-3 (12-3 Northeast-10).
Already leading by 13 at the half (37-24), Saint Anselm opened the second half on a 6-2 spurt, pushing the lead as high as 17 points (43-26) on a layup from junior guard Chris Braley with 18:26 to play. The Hawks still led by 16 with 13:16 to play (53-37), when Banton took control of the game. He would put home Franklin Pierce's next four field goals, all three-pointers, which mixed with a pair of free throws from junior guard Donte Gittens (Hartford, Conn.) to create a 14-4 run for the Ravens, who pulled within six points, at 57-51, with 10:40 to play. Banton capped the run himself at 10:40, as he created his own shot with a spin-o-rama move on the right side and drained the three after he shed his defender.
About four minutes later, Saint Anselm led by nine points, at 66-57, after a three-pointer from junior guard Harrison Taggart with 8:21 remaining. Banton kick-started another run, as he put home a layup and followed up with yet another three-pointer. The five points would key another 14-4 Franklin Pierce run, which culminated with the Ravens taking their first lead of the night, at 71-70, when Gittens put home a layup with 3:57 to play.
The two teams juggled baskets from there, with Saint Anselm reclaiming the lead, at 74-73, on a jump shot by senior guard Victor Joshua with 2:57 remaining, but then both sides went quiet. A series of missed shots and turnovers combined to keep the game without further scoring until the final minute. In fact, the next field goal would give Franklin Pierce the lead for good, as Gittens put in another layup with 53 seconds to play to put the Ravens out front, 75-74.
After Joshua turned the ball over, the Hawks were left with no choice but to foul Gittens, who knocked down both of his free throws with 23 seconds to go. Saint Anselm countered with a layup from Joshua to again close within a point, at 77-76, with just 10 seconds to play. Banton was then fouled and hit both of his free throws as well, and Joshua's three-pointer on the final possession would not go, as the Ravens came away with the 79-76 victory.
In all, Franklin Pierce would lead for just 84 seconds on Tuesday night, as compared to the 38:10 Saint Anselm spent out front, but it was the Ravens who led at the final horn.
The second-half comeback may not have even been possible without sophomore center Mike McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine) carrying the Ravens through the first half. As a team, Franklin Pierce shot just 28.6% in the first half on Tuesday (10-for-35), but McDevitt was the exception, as he went 7-for-11 from the floor on his way to a 17-point, seven-rebound opening frame. He was responsible for 17 of the team's 24 first-half points, as the Ravens had only three players score over the opening 20 minutes. On the other side, Saint Anselm built the aforementioned 13-point halftime lead on the strength of 15 points from Taggart and 10 more from freshman guard Tim Guers.
In the end, Banton would lead all players in scoring and four Ravens in double digits with 24 points on 8-for-17 from the floor, including 6-for-11 from long range. McDevitt topped 20 points as well, finishing with 21 points on 8-for-13 from the field, and he also tied for the team lead with eight rebounds. Gittens chipped in 15 points, while senior guard Tyler Iacuone (Mahopac, N.Y.) contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. In the second half, Franklin Pierce hit two-thirds of its three-point shots (8-for-12) while putting together the comeback.
Saint Anselm finished with four in double figures as well, led by 18 points from Taggart, who finished 7-for-12 from the floor, including 4-for-8 from behind the arc. Guers added 16 on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting night, while Joshua notched 15 points and seven rebounds and Braley contributed 11 points and nine boards.
The Ravens return to the court on Saturday, Feb. 6, when they remain home to host Stonehill in a Northeast-10 Conference contest. Opening tip is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Fieldhouse.
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 men's basketball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).