SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (December 17, 2017) – Down by a pair and with the ball at its own end of the floor with four seconds to play, the Franklin Pierce University men's basketball team was staring a weekend split at the AIC Holiday Classic in the face. Coming out of a timeout though, the Ravens refused to settle for such on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore guard Doyin Fadojutimi (Temple Hills, Md.) buried a running three-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to turn the deficit into a 77-76 win over Wilmington (Del.) at Butova Gymnasium. The game-winner marked the final three points of a 13-point outing for Fadojutimi, while senior forward Mike McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine) did the heavy lifting on the day, as he poured in a career-high 29 points to lead all scorers.
With the win, Franklin Pierce hits the holiday break at 6-5, while Wilmington falls to 7-4. The Ravens finished with a 2-0 record at each of the two weekend tournaments they visited this season, as they also swept through a season-opening tournament at Southern New Hampshire in November.
Fadojutimi's heroics capped off a back-and-forth final three minutes in Hoop City on Sunday. Trailing 74-70, the Ravens got back-to-back layups by Fadojutimi and junior guard Amanie Craddock (Spring Valley, N.Y.) to pull into a 74-74 tie with 91 seconds to play. The surge was immediately rendered moot though, as the Wildcats got a jumper from sophomore guard Jermaine Head on the very next possession to push out front, 76-74, with 1:13 to play.
At the time, McDevitt had gone 10-for-12 from the floor, so it was no surprise the Ravens went back to the same well on their ensuing possession to try to tie the game. This time though, the senior came up empty on a jump shot. Craddock snagged an offensive rebound which would give McDevitt a second chance, this time for three and the lead, but again he could not get it to go.
Senior guard Shawn Church procured the defensive rebound for Wilmington, which left the Wildcats with the lead and the ball heading into the final 30 seconds. Wilmington set up a look for junior center Paul Medlin down low on the right side which would have put the game away, but the layup attempt rimmed out, leaving the lead at two.
Senior forward Asante Sandiford (Boston, Mass.) cleaned the defensive glass for the Ravens, who immediately called a timeout with just over four seconds showing on the clock. Out of the break, Fadojutimi brought the ball up the floor and took care of business himself, sending the Wildcats home stunned with the buzzer-beating game-winner. The game-deciding three gave the Ravens their first lead since a 3-2 advantage less than two minutes into the first half.
Franklin Pierce trailed by as many as 14 midway through the opening stanza and was even behind by 12 with just over five minutes to play before halftime. The Ravens utilized a 12-5 run over the remainder of the period to close the gap to 37-32 at the intermission. Wilmington would push the lead as high as nine during the second half, but the majority of the second frame would see the game remain within a five-point margin.
McDevitt, despite the two late misses, had the most productive day of his career. He finished 10-for-14 from the floor, which included 3-for-5 from three-point range, and added 6-for-7 from the foul line to rack up his 29 points, which represented the highest point total by a Franklin Pierce player so far this season. The last time a Raven scored as many as 29 points came on Feb. 15, when Jordan Lackey poured in 31, in a 94-92 loss to SNHU.
McDevitt added five rebounds, two assists and a block along the way to round out his stat line. He was joined in double digits by sophomore guard Falu Seck (Washington, D.C.) with 16 points and Fadojutimi with 13. The latter had been 0-for-4 from long range before sinking the game-winning three. Fadojutimi and freshman forward Devonte McCall (Amherst, Mass.) each snagged a game-high eight rebounds, while Seck dished out six assists. As a team, the Ravens finished 14-for-15 from the free-throw line.
Head (28 points) and senior guard Nick Richards (26 points) did most of the work for Wilmington on the day, as they combined for 54 of the team's 76 points. The former went 10-for-19 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from three-point range, while the latter shot 11-for-22. Sophomore forward Miles Gillette added 10 points on 4-for-5 from the floor with a pair of threes.
Head and Gillette snagged five rebounds each to lead the Wildcats, while Head dished out five assists. Richards chipped in four assists and four steals on the afternoon.
Wilmington piled up a 29-2 advantage in points off of turnovers, as the Wildcats utilized 18 Franklin Pierce turnovers to lead for much of the way. Conversely, a 42-28 rebounding edge for the Ravens allowed the crimson and grey to stay close despite losing the turnover battle.
The Ravens return to the court on the other side of New Year's, when they return home to host Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) in a non-conference contest on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at the Fieldhouse in Rindge.
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 ice hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).