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Queens Knights fall to winless Bridgeport, 74-70

"I'm disappointed again," said Queens College head coach Kyrk Peponakis. "We played like garbage and then we think we can turn on the switch?"

What had Peponakis shaking his head was not the fact Bridgeport picked up its first ever NYCAC win and first victory of the season, it was his team's effort in the loss that upset him.

"I don't understand why a guy doesn't come to play," he said. "We had a few guys like that tonight, and had a few for a couple of games now."

Queens (4-3, 2-3) led for much of the first half, but Bridgeport (1-7, 1-3) fought back and took its first lead since 4-2 on a three pointer by freshman point guard Abdul Smith from the right wing to put the Purple Knights up, 27-26, with 4:49 left in the first half.

Led by Smith's nine points and eight from Akil Moody and aided by 16 Queens College turnovers, Bridgeport went into halftime ahead, 33-32.

"They broke us off the dribble and got some open shots in the first half," Peponakis said. "We made an adjustment in the second half and we made some things happen late, but it was too little too late."

On two Steve Sikiric free throws, the Knights regained the lead, 40-39, with 16:03 left in the second half, but that was their last lead of the game.

Queens did manage to tie the game twice, at 42, when Will Hooks muscled his way through the paint for a bucket, and at 44, when the junior forward scored from the right blocks.

But Bridgeport then went on a 12-3 run on several wide open shots, capped by T.J. Newman's tip in to take a 56-47 lead with 8:17 remaining.

Trailing 59-50, the Knights made a run of their own and, on a nice pass from Dave Trani to a cutting Mike Leonce, sliced their deficit to two, 59-57, with 6:14 left.

After consecutive buckets put Bridgeport back up by six, Gary DeBerry's open three from the right wing made it a 63-60 game with 5:09 remaining.

This was nothing new for Bridgeport first-year head coach Mike Ruane. The Purple Knights lost three of their seven games by six points or less. But this time, it was a young Bridgeport team that showed the composure down the stretch of the game, not the veteran Knights.

"We have a lot of new kids and we just haven't finished out similar games to this one," Ruane said. "These young kids need the maturation process in order to learn how to win."

A slam by Brendon Boyce and a steal and layup by Smith put Bridgeport ahead, 67-60, with 4:08 left. The Knights had their chances down the stretch, but they just couldn't convert. Trailing 69-65 with 38 seconds left, Sikiric uncharacteristically double dribbled with no pressure on him as he crossed center court.

After Smith missed the front end of the one-and-one bonus, Moody grabbed the rebound and he was fouled. He also hit just one free throw to give the Purple Eagles a 70-65 lead with 27.2 seconds left.

Lyons answered with a desperation three-point heave that cut Bridgeport's lead to 70-68 with 15.6 second left. But Moody and Smith both hit their free throws late while Trani missed a three for the Knights, which cut the score to four on Anthony Washington's tip in with 2.6 seconds to go.

"They probably took us lightly," Ruane said. "After an emotional loss at New York Tech, they probably took us lightly. It was a real good win for us."

Moody led the way for Bridgeport with 24 points, while Smith had 13 and Newman added 11. Queens had four players in double figure scoring with Sikiric leading the way with 14 points. Lyons, DeBerry and Hooks had 10 points apiece.

After taking on North Florida in a game scheduled for Tuesday night at Fitzgerald Gymnasium, the Knights close out 2000 with a home game against Merrimack, Saturday at 7 p.m.

New York Tech 82, Queens 77 (OT). Trani had 25 points, including 5-of-9 from downtown, to lead Queens in the loss at Tech last Wednesday.

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