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Queens Knights score big win over Concordia

Kyrk Peponakis gave a little reminder to the Queens College men’s basketball team, but Gary DeBerry didn’t need to hear it. The sophomore guard remembered all too well the feeling last year after the Knights lost a pair of games to Concordia.

“It was embarrassing,” he said. “They killed us at their gym and they took our heart out here.”

With the pain of last season’s losses fresh in their minds and coming in on the heels of a tough 74-57 loss at New York Collegiate Athletic Conference powerhouse Adelphi Saturday, Queens desperately needed a victory over the Clippers, especially with three difficult road games coming up.

After a lackluster first half, the Knights exploded for 48 second half points en route to a convincing 82-59 win at Fitzgerald Gymnasium Monday.

“To be honest I didn’t know how we’d react after [the Adelphi loss],” Peponakis said. “To win at Adelphi is gravy, but a game like this is big. This is a game we should have, we had to have and we went out and got it.”

But it took Queens (4-5, 3-2) a half of sub par basketball to do so. Following a first half that saw the Knights shoot 36.7 percent from the field and turn the ball over 10 times, Queens went into the break ahead 34-25 and Peponakis was not happy.

“We didn't play smart enough and I let them know it,” said Peponakis.

After lacing into his team, Peponakis and his staff left the Knights with a simple request: Attack the post.

And during a game-breaking 18-4 run to start the second half, that’s all Queens did.

Without a completely healthy Charles Paul, the Clippers 6-foot-9 force in the paint who was a Knights killer last year but who picked up his third foul early in the second half, Concordia (2-5, 2-3) had no answer for Queens’ inside game.

Freshman John Sikiric scored on a putback, Alex McLean, who scored 10 of the Knights opening 21 points, scored on a baseline layup, Jurell Bonaparte added a pair of points from the left blocks and Will Hooks emphatically drove home a putback slam during the nearly seven minute stretch that saw Queens extend its lead to 52-29.

“We wanted everything inside, everything in tight,” said Peponakis, who saw his team’s shooting percentage balloon to 51.3 percent in the second half. “Everyone did a good job in the post.”

Everyone, including 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Carnell Campbell, who had 11 points, four assists and three rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.

Campbell was one of five Knights to score in double figures as DeBerry, Hooks and McLean had 12 points apiece and Sikiric added 10 points and five rebounds. Junior forward Mike Leonce led Queens on the glass with a game-high 12 rebounds and chipped in seven points as the Knights outrebounded Concordia 53-31.

Lamar Milligan had 13 points and Tim Rollerson added 11 points — including three consecutive baskets late in the first half — as the sophomore guard showed signs of heating up like he did in a 33-point outing against Adelphi. But DeBerry did a good job of denying Rollerson the ball in the second half, holding him to just three points after the break.

Following a game at Dowling Wednesday night, Queens heads to Philadelphia University Saturday and takes on St. Thomas Acquinas Tuesday.

Adelphi 74, Queens 57. Sikiric had 11 points and DeBerry and Dave Trani added nine apiece for the Knights, who shot 46.9 percent to jump out to a 34-27 halftime lead, but went 8-for-25 (32 percent) in the second half. Former Holy Cross standout Kendall Craig led Adelphi (8-1, 5-1) with 18 points and Edison grad Tony Kellman chipped in 14 points.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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