Two stars aligned and with a little help from their friend the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers defeated Mount St. Mary’s 73-67 in overtime.
Jalen Cannon scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, including the 1,000th of his career, and Brent Jones scored 18 points, with nine rebounds and five assists, but the Terriers wouldn’t have been able to pull out the victory in the extra session if freshman Glenn Sanabria hadn’t hit the game-tying shot with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
“To hit that as a freshman, he has a lot of confidence,” Jones said.
The three-pointer from Sanabria capped a surprising SFC comeback from four points down with 46 seconds remaining. It was Jones who scored four points on the previous possession (thanks to a free throw, an offensive rebound, and an and-one basket) to even give the Terriers that last chance. After scoring just two points in the first half, SFC’s senior point guard scored 10 in the second half and six in overtime.
Jones needed every single one of those points to match the stellar play of 5’5″ Mount St. Mary’s freshman Junior Robinson. Robinson only played 27 minutes due to some foul trouble at the end of the first half, but he was a whirling dervish on the court, scoring 22 points on a variety of difficult drives, step-back threes, and a steady diet of free throws (where he went 8-10). Many Terriers took a turn guarding Robinson, who Jones praised afterward.
“He might be the quickest, fastest guard I ever played in the NEC,” Jones said. “He’s a good player. A change of speed guard. He has a long career in the league.”
For Mount St. Mary’s though this game is another frustrating loss. The Mount had a potential sweep of St. Francis, and a tie for second place in the conference, in their sights with less than a minute left, but for a third time in NEC play their late-game execution wasn’t up to par and left MSM was an overtime loss. Jamion Christian’s team is still adjusting to not having its senior playmakers with a game on the line. Robinson had a great game, but he committed two turnovers to help SFC build a quick lead in the extra session.
Chris Martin scored 14 points and Byron Ashe added 10, but the Mount didn’t have the guy who could push one of their leads, which reached as high as 10 with 13:52 remaining in the first half, into unreachable territory. Maybe Andrew Smeathers will provide that element, but the 6’6″ transfer sat out Thursday night’s game with a boot on his injured foot.
Instead St. Francis is back tied atop the NEC at the midway point of conference play.
“It’s all about winning,” Jones said. “No matter how ugly or pretty the game is, it’s all about winning.”
The Terriers have already split the season series with Robert Morris, who stayed tied atop the standings with a convincing victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday. More victories and an eventual first place finish for the Terriers would mean three valuable home NEC tournament games in March, which is about all SFC can ask for. (And yes, I confirmed that the 1,200 seat Pope Physical Education Center could host the NEC final — ESPN cameras and all — if it got that far.)
Because if the Terriers’ two stars get help, that could be enough to carry SFC to its first ever NCAA tournament appearance.