The Berkeley College men's basketball team pulled out yet another close game on Saturday afternoon, holding off the Bengals of the University of Maine at Fort Kent by a score of 89-83. The game took place at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Lower Manhattan. The victory – Berkeley's 16th straight – improved the Knights to a mark of 19-1 on the year, while the Bengals suffered just their seventh loss of the season, moving to 18-7.
Prior to the game, the Berkeley College Department of Athletics - including Director of Athletics Andrew DeStephano, Head Coach Jonathan Pena, and the entire men's basketball program - honored five seniors, including Johnnie Green, Teyvon Bussey, Shamoree Strawn, Michael Taylor, and Mohammed Camara - in a special ceremony celebrating their years of service to the institution's men's basketball team. Coach Pena took the microphone and said some heartfelt words about each senior's impact on the program, and those-student athletes were also presented with commemorative plaques in a show of appreciation for their tenures at the institution. Following the conclusion of the day's events, Pena spoke about his seniors, as well as the outcome of the game.
"Words cannot express how proud I am of these five gentlemen," Pena said. "They are all key pieces to our men's basketball family – and they have contributed to our program in their own unique ways. We're going to miss their contributions next season. As it pertains to the rest of this 2017-2018 campaign, they're all hungry to finish the season strong, and they all have their eyes on the ultimate prizes – which are Regional and National titles. As for the game today, the University of Maine at Fort Kent always seems to give us its best. They took us down to the wire two years ago – when it took a half court shot at the buzzer for us to beat them. Last year, we defeated them by seven. This year, I felt we had control most of the game, and they kept hanging in there. Our team has incredible diligence and resilience, and our guys have done a fantastic job of finishing games this season. We'll enjoy this victory for a little while before getting back to work Wednesday against New Rochelle."
Johnnie Green continued his recent string of incredible basketball, as he drilled eight of his 11 attempts from the floor – and four of his five shots from the charity stripe – to finish with a game-high 20 points on his Senior Day. He also added five rebounds – including four on the offensive side. In addition, Michael Taylor converted on four attempts from long range to finish with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Ricardo Ayuso added 12 points and four rebounds, and Mohammed Camara finalized his afternoon with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Despite the loss for the Bengals, the University of Maine at Fort Kent was led by Anthony Knight, as he hit on nine of his 18 attempts from the floor to finish with 27 points. He also connected on seven of his eight attempts from the free throw line, while grabbing nine rebounds and recording four steals. Troy Williams drilled four three-point baskets to finish with 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists, and Jarid Walton came off of the bench to score 12 points in 22 minutes of action.
Berkeley College led by 11 – 21-10 – just 8:49 into the contest, but the University of Maine at Fort Kent stormed back, going on a 23-9 run over the ensuing 6:37 to take a 33-30 lead. The Knights would then answer by netting eight consecutive points. That 8-0 spurt featured a successful three-point play that was finished by Ayuso, a converted layup by Strawn, and a made three-point basket by Taylor. At that juncture, Berkeley led 38-33, and the Knights would eventually take a 44-38 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Knights spent the opening 4:21 of the second half building their lead again, as Berkeley would catapult to a 54-42 edge with 15:39 remaining in the contest. Still, the Bengals continue to play scrappy basketball, as the University of Maine Fort Kent put together a modest 22-14 run over a span of 7:20 to eventually cut its deficit to just four points – 68-64 – with 8:19 remaining. Berkeley would answer with an 8-0 run (a basket by Camara, two successful free throw attempts from Teyvon Bussey, and two consecutive hoops by Demetri Stewart accounted for those eight straight points) to take a 76-64 advantage with 6:15 to play.
Later – with 2:59 to play and the Knights seemingly in full control with an 82-69 lead – the Bengals would remarkably continue to stay in the game. Six consecutive points over just a 40-second span brought the University of Maine at Fort Kent to within seven at 82-75, but Berkeley would convert on seven of its eight free throw attempts inside the final 67 seconds of action to seal the victory. The Knights would hold on for an impressive six point win on Senior Day.
The teams were close to even in many categories, but the biggest difference in the game turned out to be field goal percentage. The Knights made 49.3 percent of their shots from the floor (34-69), while holding the Bengals to just 38.2 percent shooting (29-76). Both teams shot well from the line, with the Knights hitting 15 of their 19 attempts from the charity stripe (78.9 percent) compared to a 70 percent conversion rate for the University of Maine at Fort Kent (14-20). The teams committed 18 turnovers apiece, and the Bengals held a slim 42-40 edge in the rebounding department. Berkeley did dominate the paint, netting 48 points there compared to 32 for the opposition.
Berkeley College will return to action Monday evening, as the Knights will take on Williamson College of the Trades. The game will take place at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and start-time is scheduled for 8:00pm.