Carnell Campbell had plenty of time to think about the importance of last Thursdays game at Southampton as the Queens College mens basketball team took the two-hour trek on the LIE nearly to the end of Long Island.
Without Gary DeBerry and John Sikiric the teams leading scorers who are out with season-ending injuries the Knights have sputtered, winning just twice during the nine-game stretch.
But Queens, which also was without starting forward Rob Villanueva (academically ineligible), played its most inspired game of the season, beating the Colonials 66-55 to end a three-game snide.
We needed this win really bad, said Campbell, a junior point guard who had his best game in a Knights uniform (13 points, 8 rebounds). Were trying to fight for a playoff spot and were just trying to win games.
Led by Campbell, Queens (9-8, 7-7 New York Collegiate Athletic Conference) shot a sizzling 60 percent (12-for-20) from the field in the second half and 55.6 percent (5-for-9) from three-point range.
Meanwhile, Southampton (6-10, 6-7), which entered the game in seventh place in the NYCAC standings one spot ahead of Queens had a disastrous shooting night, connecting on just 25.7 percent (19-for-74) from the field.
Leon Pursoo scored a game-high 18 points for the Colonials, but shot just 5-for-18 and Jye Watson, who leads the league in three-point percentage, scored just 14 points on 4-for-13 from beyond the arc.
As a result, led by Mike Leonce (11 points, 15 rebounds), Queens dominated the glass, outrebounding Southampton, 51-39.
Everyone thinks that without Gary and John we cant play and we try and feed off of that, said Leonce, a 6-foot-5 senior forward from Jamaica. For two days we went hard at practice, diving for loose balls, and it continued tonight.
Queens extended its 31-27 halftime lead to 44-36 following three consecutive three-pointers, two from senior Dave Trani, who broke out of a season-long slump to score 12 points.
Campbell connected on a pair of threes, including a trifecta from the top of the key with two seconds left on the shot clock, to cap a 14-1 run to put Queens comfortably ahead, 60-44 with 3:12 left in the second half.
Its a good win, but by no means is it the finished product, said Queens College coach Kyrk Peponakis. But theres a pulse. And Im happy for them because Ive been a pain in the butt for the last three weeks or so because I didnt like the effort.
According to Peponakis, the goal for Queens, which was picked by the conference coaches to finish second behind Adelphi, has changed.
Instead of worrying about winning the NYCAC and heading to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year, the Knights would like to host a tournament quarterfinal game.
The new goal is to finish in the top four, he said. Were in sixth now, but the guys have to go out and win.
Added Campbell: If we play hard like this every game, well win.
Queens College 71, Molloy College 62. Leonce recorded his second consecutive double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds), Alex McLean added 13 points and 7 rebounds, Trani had 12 points, and Shaun Bertin scored 11 points and 7 boards off the bench Saturday at Fitzgerald Gymnasium.
Queens hosts the University of New Haven Thursday at 7:30 p.m. before heading to Bridgeport Saturday.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2003 Community News Group
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