Daemen men shocked at buzzer in second half opener

Courtesy of Daemenwildcats.com

AMHERST, N.Y. – Nick Corbett drained a step-back three-pointer with 5.9 seconds remaining to complete an improbable comeback and deliver a 72-71 win for Molloy College over host Daemen College in East Coast Conference men’s basketball action here tonight. The Lions closed the game on a 12-1 run, with Corbett accounting for eight points, and held Daemen without a field goal over the final three minutes. Deion Hamilton‘s (Rochester, N.Y.) 15-foot runner was off the mark as time expired for Daemen.

With the win, Molloy improves to 9-5 on the season while staying unbeaten in league play at 5-0. It also snapped a two-game slide for the Lions who have been ranked as high as ninth in the Division II Sports Information Directors of America (D2SIDA) East Region media poll this season.

Daemen, which is ranked first in the D2SIDA regional poll, was playing its first-ever game as a nationally-ranked Division II team. The Wildcats are ranked 14th in the D2SIDA national media poll that was released earlier this week. The loss drops Daemen to 11-3 overall and 3-1 in league play, and it snapped Daemen’s 10-game ECC winning streak as well as their 11-game home winning streak. It was also Daemen’s first loss against an East Region opponent this season, moving them to 8-1 in such contests. The Wildcats have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 17 and 30, 2017.

Corbett finished with a team-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-10 from behind the arc. He also led the team in rebounding (7) and assists (5). Mike Torre scored 11 of his 15 points in the opening half, and converted a pair of clutch free throws inside a minute to play during the Molloy comeback. Curtis Jenkins tossed in 12 points, six boards and four steals for the Lions.

Daemen’s Andrew Sischo (Guilderland, N.Y.) led all scorers with 29 points, and added a game-high 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. The sophomore big man had a trio of thunderous dunks in the second half, and shot 10-for-16 from the field and 9-for-12 from the charity stripe in the game. Hamilton knocked down four three-pointers and totaled 17 points and six boards. Jeff Redband (Batavia, N.Y.) also reached double figures with 11 points, and added eight rebounds.

Molloy led by six points (34-28) late the first half, but Jay Sarkis (Rochester, N.Y.) banged a corner three-pointer for Daemen with nine second left in the period to cut the deficit in half. Molloy took a 34-31 lead into halftime.

Daemen, which was 3-1 this season when trailing at halftime, regained the lead at 42-40 on a nifty inbounds alley-oop to Redband less than four minutes into the second half. The bucket was part of an 11-1 run for Daemen, which turned a 40-37 deficit into a 48-41 advantage, capped by Sischo’s fastbreak layup at the 13:49 mark.

Molloy drew back within a single point on two occasions, but Daemen continued to hold the lead. Leading 50-49, the Wildcats embarked on a 15-4 spurt to open up their largest lead of the game at 65-53. Sischo scored eight points in the run, including back-to-back fastbream slams to cap it, prompting a Molloy timeout with 6:26 to play.

The lead remained at a safe distance, and when Hamilton buried a corner three-pointer with 3:13 to go and Daemen leading 70-60, it seemed as if Daemen was poised to knock off the Lions. But Corbett and his teammates had other ideas as their pressure defense forced Daemen to misfire on their final four field goal attempts, as well as two uncharacteristic turnovers. Following a shot clock violation by the Wildcats, Corbett drilled a three-pointer to bring the Lions within three (70-67). After another empty Daemen possession, Torre was fouled while going for the defensive rebound, and he was sent to the free throw line for a one-and-one; he knocked down the pair. Hamilton was fouled on Daemen’s next possession, but he split two free throws to make the score 71-69, leaving the door open for Corbett’s game-winner just moments later.

While Molloy shot just 31.6 percent from inside the three-point arc (12-for-38), it was their lethal three-point shooting that proved to be the difference. The Lions canned 14-of-28 from downtown (50%), outscoring Daemen (6-for-22 from three-point range) by 24 points from there. That helped them overcome Daemen’s edges in points from the free throw line (15-6) and points in the paint (32-20). After allowing opponents to hit 10 or more threes twice in their first 11 games this season, three straight Daemen opponents have accomplished it. The Wildcats have surrendered 46 three-pointers in the last three outings, with opponents shooting 45.5 percent.

Daemen shot 25-for-62 from the field (40.3%), marking just third time in the last 10 games they’ve been held below 45 percent shooting.

Molloy has now won two of the last three meetings played at Lumsden Gymnasium. The Daemen win in that stretch was an epic 102-98 double-overtime thriller last February. The last five meetings have been decided by an average of four points; four of those five have been single-possession differences.

The Wildcats return to action this Sunday, Jan. 13 when Queens College comes to town for a 3 p.m. tip-off. The game is part of Daemen’s Hometown Heroes Hoops Doubleheader with free admission being offered to veterans and active duty military personnel, as well as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and first responders.

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