Terriers dream season ends with NIT loss to Richmond
SFC Comes Up Just Short Against Top-Seeded Spiders in NIT
It was a season that will go down as perhaps the finest in the modern history of the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s basketball program.
But it came to a disappointing end Wednesday night in Virginia, as the eighth-seeded Terriers suffered an 84-74 loss to No. 1 seed Richmond in the opening round of the NIT Tournament before 3,624 fans at the Robins Center.
Senior guard Brent Jones bid farewell to Downtown Brooklyn with a 19-point effort, including 17 in the second half, when the Terriers (23-12) cut a 12-point deficit to two with just under three minutes remaining.
“They challenge every pass, every cut, every dribble, every shot, and it shows up during the course of the game,” Spiders coach Chris Mooney said of the resilient Terriers, who made their first postseason tournament appearance since the 1963 NIT.
Unfortunately for St. Francis, Richmond answered with a game-closing 10-2 run to end any hope that the Terriers would break the school record for victories in a season.
Terry Allen had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Richmond, and Kendall Anthony’s back-to-back layups following St. Francis’ desperation run thrust the Spiders into a second-round matchup with Arizona State on Sunday evening.
“When you cut it to two [points], you want a chance to win, to get over the top, but I think that’s when that shot went in,” St. Francis coach Glenn Braica lamented. “It changed things.”
Plenty was changed at St. Francis as well this season.
A program that had wallowed in the shadows of LIU-Brooklyn for the better part of the past decade emerged not only as the best college basketball squad in the neighborhood, proving it with a three-game season sweep of the Blackbirds, but in the NEC as well.
The Terriers won their first outright NEC regular-season title, boasted the NEC Player of the Year in Jalen Cannon and the league’s top defensive stalwart in Amdy Fall.
They hosted an unprecedented three consecutive NEC Tournament games at the sold-out Pope Center, winning a pair before the heartbreaking title-game loss to Robert Morris, which was televised live on ESPN2.
Cannon, the NEC’s all-time leading rebounder and SFC’s all-time leading scorer, had eight points and a game-high 12 boards Wednesday night while junior forward Chris Hooper added 16 points and 11 caroms for his first career double-double.
But none of it was enough to help the Terriers extend their epic season.
Braica, who continually compared his team to the old Brooklyn Dodgers during this magical campaign, will just have to “Wait ‘Til Next Year” for another shot at leading the Terriers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament.
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