Key Free Throws Down the Stretch Lead PBA Men's Basketball to Home Win Over Eckerd
December 7, 2013
Written by: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for External Operations
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- The Palm Beach Atlantic men’s basketball team broke their recent losing skid on Saturday afternoon with a strong performance down the stretch at the Rubin Arena to overtake Eckerd College by a final score of 73-68. Four PBA players topped double-figures led by junior Evin Graham’s double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds as the ‘Fish earned their second win of the season.
The Sailfish (2-6) would face pressure from the Tritons (4-3) from the opening tip on Saturday as Eckerd shook off a 15-point deficit midway through the second-half to get within one point (56-55) with under five minutes to play. The ‘Fish would remain strong down the stretch however as key free-throws by Graham, Ian Sitz and Christian Martinez all helped PBA extend their late advantage and run out the clock against EC.
The win over Eckerd is the first for Palm Beach Atlantic against the Tritons since Feb. 26, 2011 when PBA knocked off the Tritons 82-74 at the Rubin Arena.
Leading 70-66 with 24 seconds remaining in the game, PBA would have to withstand numerous comeback attempts by Eckerd as it was Martinez sinking a final pair of shots at the charity stripe with two seconds left that sealed the victory. Junior Clayton Williams intercepted a full court pass before time expired to prevent Eckerd from making things interesting with a last second miracle.
The first-half featured six lead changes between the two South Region rivals while PBA took a first-half high seven-point lead into halftime as they led 35-28 following three made free-throws from Martinez just before the break.
Williams led PBA in the first-half with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting while Jerrick Stevenson contributed eight points to lead the Tritons. EC was limited to 28.1-percent (9-32) shooting in the first-half while PBA managed a 46.2-percent (12-26) overall shooting mark from the field.
Palm Beach Atlantic began to pull away early in the second-half as back-to-back 3-pointers from Graham and Stefan Dombrowsky extended the PBA advantage to 43-30 with 16:39 to play.
After a Sitz layup underneath lifted the PBA lead to a game-high 15 points a few minutes later the Tritons would begin to put together their comeback.
A 6-0 run by Malcolm Brunner Jr. including two big dunks got the Tritons to within striking distance as PBA clung to a 49-46 lead with 9:27 to play.
An Alex Bodney 3-pointer with 6:08 to go would trim the Sailfish lead to one point (53-52) but credit the ‘Fish for not giving in as EC was never able to tie or take a lead thanks to some solid PBA execution down the stretch.
Graham led PBA with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the line while also grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds and tying for the team-lead with six assists. Williams added 14 points with six assists as well while Martinez and Matthew Gierl each chipped in 10 points.
Stevenson led a balanced Eckerd scoring load as he put home 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting while three other EC starters reached double-figures as well including a double-double from big-man Ray Darnell at 14 points and 11 rebounds.
After shooting under 30-percent in the first-half the Tritons fueled their comeback with a 58.3-percent (14-24) shooting performance in the second-half however the Sailfish good work at the free-throw line (18-21) would be too much for the Tritons to overcome.
PBA will have next week off from game action during final exams before preparing for a road contest at Florida Southern College on Saturday, Dec. 14th at 4 pm. The Sailfish and Moccasins will battle in a men’s and women’s basketball double-header with the women taking the court at 2 pm.