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Bryant battles back to beat SFU in NEC opener

Max Slomiak/Bryant Athletics
Max Slomiak/Bryant Athletics

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior Adam Grant (Franklin, Va.) scored a team-high 20 points and three other Bulldogs were in double figures, helping the Bryant University men's basketball team come from behind in the second half to beat Saint Francis U, 67-63, in both teams' Northeast Conference openers Thursday at the Chace Athletic Center.

Freshman Benson Lin (New Taipei City, Taiwan) added 14 points, redshirt-junior Hall Elisias (Valley Stream, N.Y.) chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals, and redshirt-junior Ikenna Ndugba (Boston, Mass.) was one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

GAME INFORMATION
Bryant 67, Saint Francis U 63
Records: Bryant (9-5, 1-0), Saint Francis U (7-5, 0-1)
Location: Chace Athletic Center (Smithfield, R.I.)

COACH GRASSO'S COMMENTS
"I'm proud of our guys' effort and togetherness on the defensive side of the ball. On a night where we struggled making shots in the first half, our defensive effort kept us in the game until we were able to string some together in the second half." 

KEY MOMENTS

  • Bryant used a 21-4 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a nine-point lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
  • The Bulldogs withstood a comeback effort from the Red Flash in the closing minutes, holding Saint Francis U to three field goals in the final five minutes of the game and going 5-for-6 at the line.

HOW IT HAPPENED

  • The teams were tied 12-12 with eight minutes remaining in the first half before Saint Francis rattled off an 11-2 run to go ahead 23-14 with 3:38 to play in the half.
  • A three-point play from freshman Michael Green III (Bronx, N.Y.) cut the Red Flash advantage to four before an SFU jumper gave the Red Flash a 28-22 lead at the half.
  • Bryant ripped off 12 straight points to turn a 30-22 deficit into a 34-30 advantage on a three-pointer from Linwith 15:51 remaining.
  • The Bryant run would prove to be a 21-4 stretch over 8:31 to put the Bulldogs ahead 43-34 with 11 minutes to go.
  • Saint Francis would get back within four before a four-point play from Grant pushed the lead back to eight at 54-46 with 7:46 to go.
  • The Red Flash answered with the next four and the Bulldogs responded with the next five on a Grant three and Elisias dunk to move in front 59-50 with 5:26 to play.
  • SFU scored the next seven to cut the Bryant advantage to two but the Bulldogs responded with a pair of free throws from Ndugba and a three from Lin to lead 64-57 with 2:12 remaining.
  • The Red Flash pulled back within two on a putback dunk with 22 seconds remaining and would regain possession after a Bryant inbound ricocheted off the Chace Athletic Center ceiling for the second time this season.
  • The SFU three-point attempt was off the mark, Elisias corralled the rebound and made both free throws after being fouled with 16 seconds to play.
  • The initial three-point bid from the Red Flash was off the mark and the second attempt was blocked by senior Juan Cardenas (Apartado, Colombia), who secured the rebound as time expired.

STATS

  • Grant was 7-for-14 from the field and 4-of-11 from three while adding six assists and five rebounds.
  • Elisias was 5-of-7 from the floor and added two key free throws in the closing seconds. His four-block performance was his seventh this year of three or more in a game and lifted him to an average of 3.07 per game this season.
  • Ndugba's nine rebounds included three on the offensive glass. The guard from Boston drew seven fouls in his 33 minutes on the floor.
  • Sophomore Patrick Harding (Fairfield, Conn.) added six rebounds to Bryant's 41 on the night. The Red Flash outrebounded the Bulldogs, 44-41.
  • Bryant missed its first 11 three-pointers and was 1-for-14 in the first half (7.1%) before making seven of its 13 attempts after the intermission (58.3%).
  • The Bulldogs totaled eight blocks as a team with four from Elisias, two from Cardenas, and one each from Harding and freshman Nathaniel Stokes (Tacoma, Wash.).
  • Bryant shot 43.9% for the game and limited Saint Francis to 35.9% overall and 17.4% from three.

GAME NOTES

  • Grant had his ninth game this season of 20 or more points and 32nd of his career. The senior scored in double figures for the 78th time in his collegiate career.
  • The Bulldogs won their fifth-straight home game – matching a Division I program record – and bettered their home record to 13-7 (.650) in Coach Grasso's two seasons.
  • Ndugba rose to ninth on Bryant's Division I career rebounding list at 318.
  • Bryant improves to 2-0 in Northeast Conference openers under Coach Grasso. The Bulldogs defeated St. Francis Brooklyn in last year's league lid-lifter.
  • Bryant moves to 10-12 all-time against Saint Francis U and has won the last two meetings in Smithfield.
  • The Bulldogs are 18-2 when holding their opponent under 70 points since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

UP NEXT
Bryant closes out the opening weekend of conference play when Fairleigh Dickinson visits Smithfield Saturday at 1 p.m. Tickets are available by clicking HERE and the game can be seen on NEC Front Row with Jon Wallach and Frankie Dobbs on the call. 

Bryant Men's Basketball 2019-20 season tickets are available by clicking HERE.

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