St. Francis College men’s basketball making most of home-court edge
Terriers improve to 3-0 at Pope Center with 75-69 win over UMass-Lowell
A blowout loss in Newark, N.J, over the weekend fueled the St. Francis Brooklyn’s men’s basketball team to its latest victory here in the Heights.
“We were stoked to play, we couldn’t wait to play,” sophomore guard Jalen Jordan admitted following the Terriers’ gritty 75-69 victory over UMass-Lowell Tuesday night in front of 518 fans at Remsen Street’s Pope Center.
After having their season-high three-game winning streak snapped with an 82-60 loss at NJIT on Saturday, the Terriers (6-3) were eager to return to their winning ways, but that didn’t translate into a strong start for head coach Glenn Braica’s squad.
“We didn’t have any energy [at the start]. It was a hangover from the last game,” Braica admitted after SFC went down by as many as nine points in the opening half before using a 21-6 run to take a 36-27 lead at intermission.
“I was proud of the way we fought back [late] in the first half,” he added. “We’ve got three playmakers; they just made plays.”
Jordan was certainly one of the key figures in the win, as were fellow guards Glenn Sanabria (21 points, six rebounds) and Chauncey Hawkins (18 points off the bench).
The trio combined for 60 of the Terriers’ 75 points as SFC held off a late charge by the River Hawks (6-7), improving to a perfect 3-0 on their home floor and nailing down their Northeast Conference-leading sixth win of the year.
“It’s never easy,” Braica ceded. “You knew there was a run coming, but they kept fighting. We did enough to win, and we have to move on and get better from this.”
“It was a tight game, but we just pushed through adversity,” added Jordan. “I’m just glad we got the win. Our main focus was defense. The last game we played we really didn’t defend well.”
Sanabria, a grad student at the Downtown school who has morphed into the squad’s undisputed floor leader, went 9-for-16 from the floor and didn’t commit a single turnover in 37 minutes for the Terriers, who are gearing up for Saturday’s home contest against Saint Peter’s.
“I think it’s just doing anything we can to win,” Sanabria said of the team’s mindset entering the contest.
“I think everybody individually took that [loss to NJIT] personally. We usually hit shots at home and our offense usually follows our defense.
Sanabria, Jordan and Hawkins went a combined 22-of-65 from the floor, accounting for all but four of the Terriers’ field goals on a night SFC needed every basket it could get to hold off its opponent.
“It’s a huge advantage [playing at the Pope Center],” Sanabria noted. “We’re in here shooting every day. We kind of use it to our advantage. We should shoot well in here.”
Hawkins, assuming the role of sixth-man extraordinaire, scored 14 of his points in the second half, including a clutch 3-point play on a jumper in the paint with 46 seconds to play that sealed the win.
“He’s got a certain confidence about him,” Braica said of his sophomore guard. “He doesn’t back down from situations. We have a lot of confidence in all those guys.”
As for Saint Peter’s, which beat SFC in overtime last year and posted a 65-58 win here at the Pope two Decembers ago, Sanabria and his teammates can’t wait to deliver some payback on the floor that they have yet to lose on this season.
“I know we lost to them the last two years, so that’s in my head,” he noted.
While the men’s team has been thriving in non-conference action, the SFC ladies also boast an identical 6-3 record, including a perfect 3-0 mark at home thus far this year.
Junior Jade Johnson scored a team-high 23 points and grad student Dominique Ward added 12 points, including the game-winning free throws in the final minute, as the Terriers edged Saint Peter’s 74-70 Monday to improve to 12-4 at the Pope Center over the past two seasons.
Senior guard Amy O’Neill added nine points and 10 assists for SFC, which was able to build off Friday’s wild triple-overtime win at Loyola-Maryland.
The Terriers will shoot for their third win in a row Saturday when they host Albany on what should be a very special night at the Pope.
Former SFC standout Jeanne Zatorski (Class of ’79) will have her No. 15 jersey retired at halftime, becoming the first-ever women’s hoops player at the school to be so honored.
Zatorski was also the first woman inducted into the St. Francis Brooklyn Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987. She finished her career as the Terriers’ third all-time leading scorer with 1,704 career points and ranks third in career rebounds with 878.
The Terriers will also retire the No. 40 of former women’s hoops star Karen Erving-Schiera at a later date this season.
“We are proud to announce the jersey number retirements of two basketball legends here at St. Francis College,” said Irma Garcia, the Director of Athletics.
“Jeanne and Karen are historic figures in the St. Francis community and are both extremely deserving of this prestigious honor,” she added. “We look forward to seeing both of their jerseys retired and celebrating these special days with Jeanne, Karen, and their families.”
Over at LIU-Brooklyn on Sunday, sophomore Jeydah Johnson poured in a team-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but the Blackbirds dropped to 0-9 on the season with a 72-51 loss to NJIT at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
The LIU men were scheduled to visit Stony Brook on Wednesday.