The Berkeley College men's basketball team continued to roll on Wednesday evening as the Knights defeated the Warriors of Vaughn College in a rematch of the 2015-2016 Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title game by a score of 88-78. With the win, the Knights improved to 18-0 overall on the 2016-2017 campaign (4-0 in league play), and the team has now won 42 consecutive contests overall. Vaughn College slid to 9-4 overall on the year, and 3-1 in conference action.
The Knights raced out to an early 7-0 lead in this one thanks to a hoop by Dondre Simmons, a converted layup by Johnnie Green, and a three-point basket by Massiah Merritt. Vaughn College would go on an 11-3 over the ensuing 2:58 of action to grab an 11-10 advantage. Later – with the Warriors holding a slim 19-18 edge – Berkeley's Mandrell Jefferies would connect on a shot to give the Knights a 20-19 advantage – a lead that Berkeley College would not relinquish.
Berkeley would gradually build its lead as the opening session progressed, with the Knights eventually taking a commanding 48-31 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Berkeley would expand that margin to as many as 26 points in the second half – and the Knights held what seemingly was a comfortable 81-56 lead with just 6:56 to play. That – however – is when Vaughn College made a late push.
The Warriors would go on an 11-0 run over a span of 2:20 to pull to within 14 points – 81-67 – with 4:36 to play. A huge, timely three-point basket by Berkeley College's Torrence Ested 27 seconds later put the Knights back up by 17 – 84-67. Vaughn wouldn't go away, however, as the Warriors scored the next six points to get to within 11 – 84-73 – with 3:19 remaining in the game. The Knights were able to withstand the furious Vaughn run, though, allowing just one Warriors field goal over the final 199 seconds of play to eventually go on to win the contest by 10 points.
Merritt paced the Knights on the evening, as he scored a game-high 23 points while grabbing four rebounds, tallying four assists, and adding three steals. Green added 18 points and a team-high 12 rebounds, and Stephon Jennings posted a double-double with 13 points, 10 caroms, four assists, and three steals.
Berkeley hit on 41.7 percent of its attempts from the floor (30-72) compared to a 38.8 percent conversion rate for the Warriors (26-67). The Knights held a slight 54-48 edge on the glass, and also won the turnover battle, committing 27 mistakes while forcing 31 opposition miscues. Both teams were victimized by poor free throw shooting, with the Knights misfiring on 13 freebees (23-36) and the Warriors missing a whopping 21 (19-40).
Despite the loss for the Warriors, it was Ian Parker scoring a team-high 20 points to go along with two rebounds and two assists. Lamink Barr posted a double-double with 14 points and a team-high 13 rebounds, and Michael Pena and Kevin Vanderpool added 16 and 11 points, respectively.
The Knights will return to action tomorrow evening, as Berkeley College will play the Pioneers of Pratt Institute in another Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest. Start-time at the Pratt Activities Resource Center in Brooklyn, NY, is scheduled for 8:30pm.