"I'm so proud of how we played all game," Peponakis said. "The guys realized what they had to do and they did it. I just love the fact we competed and played hard."
Queens started the game strong and, more importantly, finished it strong. Leading by just three, 58-55, late in the second half, the Knights played perhaps their best three and a half minutes of basketball all season.
Back-to-back buckets by freshman Anthony Washington and a three-pointer by junior point guard Phil Lyons extended the Knights lead to 65-55. Defensively, Queens (5-5, 3-3) completely shut down the Pioneers in the closing moments, switching from a zone defense to a tight man-to-man. A steal and a layup by Gary DeBerry was followed by a steal and a dunk by Alex McLean. Steve Sikiric's layup on a gorgeous back door cut capped the amazing 13-0 run before Baldur Olafsson's desperation banked three ended C.W. Post's 3:26 draught.
"That's what we've been talking about, when we're up on a team we have to finish," said junior Will Hooks. "A lot of times we keep teams around, it's good that we finished tonight."
As is the case in most Queens wins, the team had a balanced scoring attack. Led by Lyons, who scored a game-high 16 points, including 4-for-5 from three-point range in 40 minutes, five Knights scored in double figures.
"The way we played today is the way we should play every game," Lyons said. "We have to come out and play hard throughout."
Sikiric had 15 points, 13 in the second half, Washington chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds, Hooks had 12 points and nine boards and DeBerry added 10 points, on 4-for-6 shooting.
After shooting 40 percent in the first half, Queens went 16-for-26 in the second half for a blazing 61.5 percent. After a 20-19 rebounding deficit in the first half, the Knights answered by outrebounding Post (6-3, 5-1) 19-5 in the second half.
"The momentum was going our way, we had no choice but to finish strong," Lyons said. "Coach always says whoever wants it more wins."
While Sikiric picked up his game in the second half, Hooks paced the Knights in the first half. Three consecutive putbacks gave Queens an 11-6 lead. The 6-foot-5 junior forward went 4-for-5 from the field in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing five boards in just seven minutes of the first half. The Knights carried the play in the first half, trailing just briefly, 27-25, before heading into the halftime with a 35-31 lead.
"We had to come out strong and someone had to get us going," Hooks said. "Everyone had to come out and play. I just tried to get the team excited and motivated."
As if breaking a four-game slide with a conference road win in a gym that had traditionally been a house of horrors for the Knights wasn't motivation enough, Peponakis cut out a newspaper clipping about C.W. Post and highlighted the part that said the tough part of the Pioneers season begins on Jan. 13 when Post takes on Philadelphia University.
"We felt they didn't respect us, supposedly their first tough game is next week," Hooks said. "We kind of took that personally and showed what we could do."
"That was a blatant slap in our face," Peponakis added.
While one complete game effort against Post was great, Peponakis and his team knows they need to start piecing together some conference wins as the Knights embark on the second half of the season. That certainly won't be easy as Queens hosts the No. 5 ranked team in the country in conference foe Adelphi in a game scheduled for Wednesday night. It will be the first of three NYCAC home games in a span of six days.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," Peponakis said of facing the undefeated Panthers. "I can't wait to play them. It will be another challenge."
Notes: After Adelphi on Wednesday, the Knights host Dowling Saturday night and Philadelphia University Monday. Queens' four-game NYCAC home stretch ends next Wednesday against St. Thomas Aquinas. The Knights' win was only the school's eighth in 52 games against the Pioneers, dating back to Jan 6, 1960.
©2001 Community News Group
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