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Queens men bounce back from loss with win

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Not reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, but rebounds, running and most importantly,...

By Dylan Butler

The Queens College men’s basketball team used the three R’s in its 66-55 win over New York Collegiate Conference foe Molloy College at Fitzgerald Gymnasium Saturday night.

Not reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, but rebounds, running and most importantly, resiliency as the Knights returned to their winning ways after a 78-58 loss at No. 1 Adelphi last Wednesday.

“We didn’t want this to snowball,” said sophomore Dave Trani. “[Head] coach [Kyrk Peponakis] was adamant that this can’t turn into two or three straight losses. We want to go into the playoffs with either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, so we took this game very seriously.”

Indeed, with a game at Philadelphia (16-5, 15-3) looming, a win over Molloy became even more vital toward Queens securing at least the No. 3 seed which would guarantee the Knights a home first round playoff game.

“The biggest thing is that we don’t want to lose what we’ve accomplished,” Peponakis said. “We got the chance to keep going and maybe do something else. This team does a great job of coming back after losses.”

After a four-game losing streak in December, Queens (15-8, 13-6) followed each of its next three losses with victories. The Knights have won six of their last seven and nine of their last 11 games.

The Knights insured that trend would continue Saturday with a ferocious rebounding effort on both ends of the floor. And it wasn’t just the usual suspects, like junior Will Hooks (six rebounds) and freshman Anthony Washington (eight rebounds) who banged the boards. Everyone got involved.

Senior Steve Sikiric, who stands just 6-foot-4, grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and led all scorers with 19 points. Jurrell Bonaparte, who is a lanky 6-foot-8, had five boards, including three key offensive rebounds in the first half and Trani had seven rebounds — five on the offensive glass — as the Knights outrebounded Molloy, 45-36.

“We knew we could rebound with this team,” Sikiric said. “We just went to the boards hard.”

Added Trani: “With us, early in the year we were the team giving up certain rebounds and that would come back and bite us. We definitely reversed that tonight. We ended up hitting some big shots from offensive rebounds.”

And, as Peponakis was quick to point out after the game, “When you rebound, you can run.”

And run they did.

Back-to-back driving layups by Sikiric and Bonaparte increased the Knights’ 10-point halftime lead to 14, 40-26 five minutes into the second half.

The Lions tried to harness Queens with a full-court press. Against Mercy and Adelphi, the Knights struggled under pressure. But against Molloy they flourished and proved that emphatically with 14:45 left in the game.

Junior point guard Phil Lyons dribbled through three Molloy defenders and got the ball past half court. Bonaparte got the ball on the left blocks and, with a gorgeous interior pass across the paint, found Hooks (12 points) who sent home a thunderous slam while getting fouled. The three-point play put the Knights ahead, 43-28.

“That was the play of the year,” Trani said. “It was a great look by Jurrell and a great finish by Hooks. When Hooks is around the basket, he is dangerous.”

A nice pass by a penetrating Gary DeBerry, who had a game-high six assists and five points, found Washington (10 points) for a baseline dunk to put Queens ahead by 18. On DeBerry’s 14-foot bank shot moments later, the Knights had their largest lead of the game, 60-40, with 5:28 left.

Eric Gravelle led Molloy with 14 points while Laurelton native and August Martin alum Malcolm Watson added 13 points.

After a game at Philadelphia scheduled for Wednesday night, the Knights head to Sparkill in Rockland County to take on St. Thomas Aquinas Saturday at 8 p.m.

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

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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