Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Sophomore guard Matt Asenjo scored two of his 12 points in the closing seconds as the St. John Fisher College men’s basketball team held on to defeat visiting Stevens Institute of Technology, 76-75, on Saturday in an Empire 8 pairing inside Manning and Napier Varsity Gymnasium on Bobby Wanzer Court. With the win, Fisher remained unblemished in conference play at 4-0 and moved to 9-4 on the season while the Ducks, who have now lost two in a row, slipped to 11-4 on the season and 4-2 in the Empire 8.
After taking a two-point lead into the second half, 35-33, the Cardinals found themselves trailing after the Ducks buried a 3-pointer to start the period. The advantage would be short-lived, however, as Fisher drained its next six shots from the floor along with three from distance including two from senior Ryan Henderson to open up a double-digit lead, 50-39.
The lead would grow to as many as 14 points before Stevens reeled off a modest 6-2 run to pull to within 10 points with 12:26 remaining in the game. With a comfortable lead and time working against its opponent, Fisher’s paced would slow as the Ducks countered with a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to seven, but the Cardinals regrouped as Sean Williams and Dylan Harrington (Irondequoit) made back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the Cardinals’ advantage back to double digits, 67-54.
As the half continued, the momentum shifted again as Stevens orchestrated a 13-3 run including 10 unanswered points to climb to within three, 70-67.
With under three minutes to go, Fisher afforded itself some breathing room when Henderson found nylon on free throw before Mark Valeriani hit an open jumper to make it 73-67, but Stevens continued its comeback bid with five quick points to pull to within two, 74-72, with just 36 seconds showing on the clock.
Clinging to a one-possession lead, Fisher called a timeout to draw up a play before Asenjo blew past his defender and kissed it off the glass to make it a four-point game. On the ensuing inbound, the Ducks pushed the ball up the court and were able to nail a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game. The Cardinals quickly inbounded the ball and were sent to the charity stripe, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 as the Ducks hauled in the rebound. Trailing by one and with no timeouts, the visitors were on the move, but their final attempt to steal a win rimmed in and out as the Cardinals held on for the critical conference victory.
Henderson led Fisher with 14 points to go along with eight rebounds and two assists while James Leone was 5-for-7 from the field resulting in 13 points. The junior guard also accounted for four boards and a game-high five assists. Asenjo finished with 12 points while Sammy Robinson chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds of his own.
Fisher will look to make it three wins in a row at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday when it travels to Elmira for an Empire 8 showdown with the Soaring Eagles.