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QC Knights drop heartbreaker to New York Tech

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In the final minutes of its 62-59 New York Collegiate Athletic Conference loss at New York Institute of Technology Saturday in Old Westbury, L.I., all of the tiny things that led to the Queens College men’s basketball team’s demise were magnified.

The missed free throws, poor field goal shooting, getting out-rebounded and turnovers all came into play with the game on the line.

“We didn’t execute well down the stretch and you can’t do that on the road against a good team,” said Knights head coach Kyrk Peponakis. “Our effort was really good, but our execution at the end has to be better.”

Despite shooting 38.5 percent from the field (10-of-26) in the second half and 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from the line, Queens (9-8, 8-5) had a chance to send the game to overtime on its last possession.

After Kendell Holloman sunk a pair of free throws to put New York Tech (12-7, 9-3) up by three, 62-59 with 14.4 seconds left, the Bears called timeout. During the stoppage, Peponakis drew up plays off screens for Gary DeBerry, Johnny Sikiric and Phil Lyons to get an open look from beyond the arc.

The play went to Lyons, who was free in the corner with four seconds left. But the senior point guard, who had just one point and was 0-of-6 from the field, hit the iron with his shot and the ball bounced below the cylinder as time expired.

“I was surprised I had a good look,” said Lyons. “I wasn’t going good all game. I was hoping either Gary or Sikiric got the look I got.”

For the Knights, their second consecutive NYCAC loss capped a grueling stretch of four tough league games in seven days.

“I think we might be tired,” Peponakis said. “We just didn’t find a way today and that’s part of the game. [New York Tech] played well. We just want to stop losing. That’s two in a row now and you never want to do that. I’m a little concerned about the physicalness.”

Added Lyons: “We have a lot of guys banged up. We need that day off bad to get our heads together, come back on Monday and get ready for Wednesday [at Bridgeport].”

Queens led 57-55 on two of Sikiric’s 14 points with 3:21 left in the second half, but that was the Knights last field goal of the game.

Jermain Hollman (19 points, seven rebounds) followed with his second straight three-pointer from the wing to put the Bears up by one. Holloman followed going the length of the court for a driving layup to give New York Tech a 60-57 lead with 2:36 left.

After Lyons made just one of two from the line, the Knights had the chance to tie the game with 38 seconds left, but Dave Trani’s lob pass to Alex McLean was too deep and McLean stepped on the baseline.

McLean, who led Queens with 15 points and 16 rebounds, also had an opportunity to tie the game with 16.6 seconds left after Holloman missed the front end of a bonus, but the junior center made the second foul shot.

“Free throws, rebounds, loose balls, they got most of it,” Lyons said of New York Tech, which has won eight of its last nine conference games. “A couple of times we had two guys from the same team fighting each other for the ball. They just outworked us.”

Led by the sharp shooting of freshman forward Patrick Tunstead, who had the majority of his 15 points and nine rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, the Bears led most of the first half and went into the break ahead, 32-31.

After playing at Bridgeport Wednesday night, the Knights close out a three-game NYCAC road trip at C.W. Post in Brookville, L.I. Saturday at 7 p.m.

Southampton 92, Queens 89. Sikiric had 24 points, Lyons added 18 points and eight assists and DeBerry chipped in 15 points and five assists for the Knights in a tough home loss last Thursday. Curtis Small led Southampton (9-8, 8-5) with 26 points.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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