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Late scoring drought wastes Queens comeback

They showed grit. They showed determination. They showed heart.

And it appeared it would pay off for the Queens College men’s basketball team, as Mike Leonce’s putback gave the Knights a 47-45 lead with 7:37 left in the second half at C.W. Post Saturday afternoon.

But the one thing Queens didn’t show was an ability to hit a key shot — or any shot — down the stretch, as the Knights went a paralyzing seven minutes without scoring in the Pioneers’ 59-53 win at Pratt Recreation Center in Brookville, L.I.

With the win, C.W. Post remains undefeated in its brand-new $18.5 million home, while Queens dropped its fifth straight game, as its postseason hopes seem to be rapidly slipping away.

“I’m happy with the effort, but we needed to win,” said Queens College coach Kyrk Peponakis. “We played hard, but we should play hard. That should be a part of what we do.”

The loss drops Queens to 10-13, 8-12 in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Knights, who have four conference games remaining, are in 10th place and two games out of the eighth and final tournament berth.

“We’re not accepting a moral victory,” said senior Mike Leonce, who had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in 39 minutes. “The last two games we played real hard, but we couldn’t find a way to score.”

Despite being out-rebounded 39-36, Leonce, Shaun Bertin (10 points, 4 rebounds) and Alex McLean (5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks) controlled the paint, forcing C.W. Post (17-6, 16-4) to alter several of its shots.

Leading 47-45 and in the one-and-one bonus, Queens opted for contested and sometimes forced long-range shots rather than driving to the basket to draw a foul.

The Knights couldn’t capitalize on five chances to extend its lead before Ryan Bucci tied the game at 47 on a foul line leaner with 3:49 left in the second half.

Bucci was huge down the stretch for the Pioneers. The 6-foot-3 senior guard put C.W. Post ahead 51-47 on a tough baseline jumper with 1:27 left. After Marc Terry missed the front end of a one-and-one with 46.7 seconds left, Bucci grabbed the offensive rebound and then nailed four straight free throws over the next 10 seconds to seal the win.

Bucci finished with a game-high 21 points and added 5 rebounds in 40 minutes as C.W. Post improved to 11-0 at the Pratt Recreation Center.

“The atmosphere is great, we have some good fans this year,” Bucci said. “We just try and capitalize on that, play hard and get wins.”

After hosting New York Tech Tuesday, Queens plays at Concordia Thursday before returning home for Dowling Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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

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