Queens Knights drop tough one to Philadelphia

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They say the game of basketball is a game of spurts, but Queens College and Philadelphia University took that literally in a New York Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball game Saturday night at Fitzgerald Gymnasium.

Like a classic tug-o’-war, Philadelphia pulled and Queens pulled back. And when freshman John Sikiric nailed an open three-pointer to put the Knights ahead 69-68 with 15.8 seconds left, capping an 11-3 run, it appeared Queens made that final thrust to drag the Rams over the line.

But Philadelphia flexed its muscles once more as freshman Brent Welton netted a pair of free throws with 7.7 seconds left in the game to clinch a 70-69 road league win.

“We had a chance to win the game at the end, but we didn’t compete for 40 minutes,” said Queens College coach Kyrk Peponakis. “We didn’t make the play at the end.”

Following Welton’s free throws, Queens (12-10, 11-7) did have a chance to win the game. Senior point guard Phil Lyons pushed the ball up the court but couldn’t find an open teammate.

With time winding down, the Far Rockaway native had an open look at a three-pointer from the left wing. But the shot bounced off the rim and out as Philadelphia and its longtime head coach Herb Magee ran off the court with arms raised in victory.

It was the second time this season Lyons, who had seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. He also hit the front iron in a 62-59 overtime loss at New York Tech Jan. 26.

“To me, everything should have been towards the basket,” Peponakis said. “We should have set a high screen and let Phil go and try and beat his man off the dribble. That was my fault.”

If not for a foul called on Alex McLean on Welton’s drive through the lane, Sikiric would have been the hero. Trailing by one, Peponakis called timeout with 26.8 seconds remaining. Somehow Sikiric, who netted a game-high 24 points, found himself wide open from beyond the arc and made the Rams pay, burying his third three-pointer of the game to put the Knights up by one.

“It would have been great if that would have happened,” Sikiric said about the possibility of hitting the game-winning shot. “This was a heartbreaker. I didn’t see what happened [on McLean’s foul] because I was too busy boxing out, but we just came up one defensive stop short.”

Led by sophomore point guard Brett Storm, who averages 11.2 points per game but scored 24 points, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, Philadelphia (16-5, 14-3) went on a 10-2 run midway through the first half to take a 28-20 lead.

Storm was one of four Philadelphia players to score in double digits. Sophomore Jerry Clark had 17 points and Welton and Brian Tomko added 11 points apiece.

But Queens answered back, closing the first half with a 16-2 run of its own, to head into the half ahead 36-30.

The Rams roared out of the locker room to take a 41-39 lead on a Storm three, capping an 11-3 spurt. Another Philadelphia run, this time a 12-2 one, gave the Rams a 62-55 edge with 6:57 left.

“We let guys on their team who shouldn’t have scored hurt us,” said Queens College sophomore Gary DeBerry, who netted 15 points. “We focused on their main players and they didn’t hurt us that much, but their role players came up and killed us.”

After hosting St. Thomas Aquinas Wednesday, the Knights play at Mercy Saturday before returning home Monday to face Bridgeport. Queens seniors Lyons and Will Hooks will be honored before playing their last regular season home game.

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

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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