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Boynes’ buzzer-beater sinks Queens, 54-53

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St. Thomas Aquinas appeared to be the perfect opponent for a Queens College men’s basketball team desperate for a win. After all, the Spartans entered Fitzgerald Gymnasium Saturday night having won just one game this season, a 90-80 overtime victory at Concordia a week earlier.

And even though they didn’t deserve it, it looked like the Knights would escape with a victory when, after Rob Villanueva’s free throw gave Queens a one-point lead with 6.5 seconds remaining, Kahlil Dawkins air balled a three-pointer from the left wing.

But Jahbari Boynes snuck past a pair of Knights at the right blocks and scored the game-winning putback at the buzzer to lift St. Thomas Aquinas to a 54-53 win.

It was Boynes’ only basket of the day on his lone field-goal attempt.

“I don’t know what they’re thinking about,” said Queens coach Kyrk Peponakis. “Because obviously by the way they reacted, they thought the game was over.”

The loss, the Knights’ third straight, drops Queens’ (8-8, 6-7) record to below .500 in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference and is especially damaging considering the team’s upcoming schedule, which includes a road game Thursday at Southampton — where Queens has traditionally struggled — and home games against Molloy and Mercy.

Meanwhile, St. Thomas Aquinas (2-12, 2-10) partied like it was 1999, mobbing Boynes at midcourt.

“This is a big achievement; we’re not used to winning,” said former McClancy standout Daryl Boykins, who led the Spartans with 20 points — 13 in the second half. “We broke a 10-game losing streak and now we won our second game. We’re on our way up. After starting out bad we’re finishing off good.”

Boykins, a transfer from St. Peter’s out of Jamaica, scored 7 straight points at the start of the second half as St. Thomas Aquinas broke a 31-31 halftime tie to take a 41-35 lead with 13:43 left.

The Spartans held the lead for eight minutes until freshman Lance Hazel (11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals) sparked a comeback with 6 points during an 8-0 run to put Queens ahead, 49-46 with 4:51 left.

Four more points by Boykins gave STAC a 52-51 lead with 50.2 seconds left, but Alex McLean and Villanueva (18 points, 7 rebounds) each went 1-for-2 from the line to give the Knights a 53-52 lead before Boynes became the unlikely hero.

“It’s what I do, crash,” Boynes said. “They did a good job of boxing me out all game but I just kept at it.”

“We’re an extremely young team and when you play in a very competitive conference, all our warts were basically exposed. That’s the bad news,” said St. Thomas Aquinas coach Dennis O’Donnell. “The good news is that once that happens, you learn how to fix it, and that’s the process we’re in now.”

Queens College 71, St. Thomas Aquinas 63. As bad as the Queens men's team’s loss was, that's how big a win the Lady Knights scored against NYCAC leading St. Thomas Aquinas standings.

“The first time we played them, it was early in the season and we were up early but we just got out of sync,” Queens coach Denis Conroy said of his team’s 67-57 loss at St. Thomas Aquinas Dec. 13. “We’ve come a long way as a group. We’ve been pretty much in every game. Our learning curve has been pretty good.”

Shonda Holder led Queens (7-9, 6-7) with 22 points and 7 rebounds, and the freshman backcourt combination of Patti Cronin and Erin White scored 19 points apiece as the Lady Knights shot 46.9 percent from the field and 82.1 percent from the foul line. Queens also outrebounded St. Thomas Aquinas (11-4, 10-3), 40-25

Cronin shot 7-for-10 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line, while White also grabbed 4 rebounds and had 4 steals in 40 minutes.

“She’s not a classic point guard, but she’s a winner. She does what it takes and she’s a very good contributor,” Conroy said of Cronin out of East Islip High School. “Erin White went through a shooting slump but she does so many other things well. She’s a very smart kid who has a good sense of the game.”

Queens led by five when Christ the King alum Josephine Alohan was called for an offensive foul with six seconds left in the first half and then received a technical foul for arguing the call.

Lady Spartans coach Mike McManus followed with a technical foul and White (8-for-8 from the foul line) buried all four free throws to put Queens ahead 39-30 at the break.

After playing at Southampton Thursday, the Lady Knights host Molloy Saturday and Mercy Tuesday.

Notes: The Queens College home doubleheader against New York Tech Feb. 18 will be broadcast live on the internet by Sports Radio Network (WSRN) as part of its season-long coverage of NYCAC basketball. The games, which can be heard on www.sportsradionet.com, will be called by Rob Goldenberg and Alon Avital and will feature a 15-minute pregame show starting at 4:45 p.m.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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