Terriers return with loss to Bryant
SFC defeated in borough's first sports event since March
The nearly nine-month wait for some sort of live sporting event to take place in our borough finally ended Tuesday afternoon on Remsen Street, albeit without fans and without a win for the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s basketball team.
Swingman Travis Atson scored 19 points and fellow graduate student Unique McLean added 18, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Terriers returned to the Daniel Lynch Gymnasium at the Pope Physical Education Center with a season-opening 101-82 loss to Northeast Conference rival Bryant.
There hadn’t been any professional or collegiate games played in Brooklyn since March 12, when the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament was in progress at Downtown’s Barclays Center before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the global shutdown of sports.
The Terriers (0-1, 0-1 NEC) had a formidable challenge in their first action since being eliminated from the NEC Tournament with a 59-58 loss to top-seeded Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on March 4.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0) already had three games under their belt entering the NEC opener for both teams.
Bryant suffered a one-point loss at Syracuse last month before beating New Hampshire and burying in-state rival Rhode Island College 138-83 on Saturday.
SFC head coach Glenn Braica’s charges tried to stay with the fast-paced tempo of the Bulldogs, but Bryant secured a 58-38 halftime lead and never looked back en route to its third consecutive win.
“This is how we play. We get out and run. This is how we practice. This is what I envisioned when I took the program over,” said Bryant head coach Jared Grasso after spoiling the Terriers’ home opener.
“For us, we’re comfortable when the game is fast. We like to pressure, we like to get out and transition, we like to share the ball and I thought we did a pretty good job of that the last two nights.”
To their credit, the Terriers played a better second half, outscoring the Bulldogs 44-43. That may be something of a boost for SFC, which was scheduled to host Bryant again Wednesday afternoon at the Pope in the second half of the back-to-back series.
Sophomore guard Rob Higgins had 11 points and five assists for the Terriers, who were outrebounded, 54-44, while allowing the Bulldogs to shoot a blistering 55 percent (12-for-22) from 3-point range.
Peter Kiss led five Bryant players in double digits in scoring with 19 points to go with six rebounds and three steals as the Bulldogs sent an early message in conference play.
The Terriers will travel to Central Connecticut State next Tuesday to open a back-to-back set in New Britain, Conn.
The SFC women kicked off their 2020-21 campaign in Smithfield, R.I., against the ladies of Bryant, suffering a heartbreaking 89-88 loss in overtime at the Chace Athletic Center.
Reigning NEC Rookie of the Year Nevena Dimitrijevic picked up where she left off in March, scoring 21 points in 28 minutes while handing out four assists and picking up a pair of steals for the Terriers (0-1, 0-1 NEC).
Sophomore Alyssa Fisher added a career-best 19 points and freshman Zharia Hutchinson added 18 points and 14 rebounds for SFC, which forced overtime on sophomore Jada McMillan’s steal and layup with 16 seconds left in regulation.
Dimitrijevic knocked down a clutch jumper with 23 ticks left in OT to give SFC a one-point lead, but Kandis Taylor answered on the ensuing trip, hitting a jumper of her own with two seconds remaining to squash the Terriers’ hopes of a season-opening road upset.
Brooke Bjelko poured in 19 points and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds for Bryant (3-2, 1-0), which was slated to host SFC again Wednesday afternoon.
The Terriers will make their Brooklyn season debut next Tuesday against CCSU in the first game of back-to-backs.
After having its first two Brooklyn home games against Merrimack at the Steinberg Wellness Center postponed indefinitely this week, the Long Island University men’s hoops squad is scheduled to officially begin play next Tuesday at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn.
The Sharks were ranked second in the preseason NEC Coaches’ Poll.
The LIU women will host Sacred Heart in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday for their season opener in another back-to-back set.
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