The Adelphi mens basketball teams 14-point halftime lead dwindled to single digits and surging Bridgeport was on the verge of snapping the Panthers nine-game winning streak in the first of two New York Collegiate Athletic Conference semifinals at the Pratt Center on the campus of C.W. Post Friday.
On the floor for Adelphi were freshmen Eric Martin and Jamaal Wagner, and the Queens duo each came up big in the final minutes.
Martin, a Laurelton native out of Christ the King, dived on the floor to corral a loose ball and Wagner, a standout at Molloy last season, stripped Jermaine Clark, buried a huge three-pointer and hit the front end of a one-and-one from the foul line in the final 3:34 to lift Adelphi to a 74-69.
A day later Adelphi celebrated its fourth NYCAC title after beating host C.W. Post 70-57. Wagner knocked down three straight three-pointers en route to a career-high 15 points, and Martin started at center for the Panthers for a ninth straight game.
This time of year coaches dont really play the freshmen that much because they think theyre going to make a lot of mistakes, Wagner said. But coach showed a lot of confidence in us and Im just glad that we were able to do whatever we had to do to win.
Wagner has appeared in 30 games, starting two, and is averaging 6.1 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game. But Wagner has exploded in the postseason, averaging 12 points per game and shooting 56.3 percent (9-of-16) from three-point range during the NYCAC tournament.
Martin averages 3.6 points per game and 3.1 rebounds and has been in the starting lineup since Juma Allen went down with a season-ending torn medial cruciate ligament in his right knee Feb. 12.
Freshman year has gone real well, Martin added. The beginning of the season was slow because we all had to make transitions, we were all new players and had to adjust, but right now were playing much better.
Theyre terrific kids and they work their rear ends off every single day, said Adelphi first-year coach James Cosgrove. Eric wasnt even playing at the beginning of the year; now hes our starting center and hes doing a terrific job and Jamaal is going to be a real special player. Were real excited about both of them.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2003 Community News Group
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