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Queens falls flat in loss to Philadelphia, 92-77

Listless and uninspired is no way for a team that is fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference to play. But in a crucial league game against Philadelphia University, that is exactly what the Queens College men's basketball team did in its 92-77 loss Saturday night.

"You'd think we'd have the effort of a desperate team," Queens College head coach Kyrk Peponakis said. "I questioned today if they're proud to wear their jersey because I didn't see it. It's the first time I ever did that with this group."

Philadelphia University (14-9, 11-8 NYCAC) completely out-hustled the eighth-place Knights on both ends of the floor. The Rams won the battle on the boards, 36-25. They outshot Queens, 55.4 percent (36-65) from the floor, 84.6 percent (11-13) from the line and 40.9 percent (9-22) from three-point range. The Rams, who had five players in double-figure scoring, also passed the ball around well, racking up 22 team assists.

"You have to take your opportunities - the ball is loose on the floor - we have to get it. The ball is on the backboard, we have to box out and go get it," Peponakis said. "Every time we didn't, it hurt us. It breaks your back. We're not hungry for it. The ball is not the most important thing."

Philadelphia opened up an 11-2 lead out of the gate, but Queens (8-14, 7-11) came back to cut the lead to three, 20-17, on a driving layup by freshman Mike Leonce with 11:48 to go in the first half.

From there, aided by some good ball movement and solid screens, the Rams started bombing away from beyond the arc. Ryan Presson (15 points) nailed two threes, Abdul Collier (12 points) connected from the left side, Tai Crutchfield (20 points, nine rebounds) added another as Philadelphia University went on a 21-7 run to take a 41-24 lead with 4:14 left in the first half.

"Tonight we had a lot of assists and that's what you look at as a coach, guys handing the ball, being unselfish," Philadelphia University head coach Herb Magee said. "I think we are playing together. There's enough talent on this team to compete with anybody."

The Rams went into half-time with a 46-34 lead and were up by 11, 53-42 when Tom Whitworth iced the game. The sharp-shooting sophomore guard nailed three treys in a five-minute span as Philadelphia went ahead, 72-51, with 10:26 remaining in the second half.

"We played zone and they brought the shooter in and it just broke us down," Peponakis said. "Sometimes we don't make the right decisions. We didn't play with any heart and we didn't play with any smarts."

The final seven minutes of the game resembled a New York City playground game with the Knights playing little to no defense. Anthony Jefferson scored an open layup and a one-handed jam, Jim Reeves also had an easy layup and then finished a three-on-one break. On Collier's 17-foot jumper, Philadelphia University led, 91-69, with 2:12 to play.

Junior forward Steve Sikiric led the Knights with 17 points. The Maspeth native added seven rebounds. Leonce, a Jamaica grad and Holy Cross alum Gary DeBerry scored 14 points apiece. Fellow freshman Dave Trani added 11 for Queens, who return to the court at Molloy Sunday at 3 p.m. after hosting the College of St. Rose in a game scheduled for Wednesday night. Collier had 12 and Whitworth added 11 for the Rams.

Adelphi 68, Queens 56. Sophomore Will Hooks and Trani each scored 14 points and junior Pete Banta added 10 as the Knights fell in Garden City last Wednesday night. Leonce just missed recording his second double-double of the season with nine points and nine rebounds. The Panthers led 24-23 with 4:45 to go in the first half, but closed out the half on a 14-2 run to go into the locker room with a 14 point lead.

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