BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team never led in the second half and trailed by 11 with five minutes to go, before junior Sebastien Etheart (Hollis, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) scored five points in the final 15 seconds to stun the Dolphins in a thrilling, come-from-behind 66-64 victory on Wednesday evening at The Hill Center.
Etheart would lead all scorers with 28 points as the Bears (7-11, 6-8 Skyline) avenged an overtime road loss to the Dolphins (5-13, 5-9 Skyline) in November to split the season series.
How it Happened
Etheart opened the scoring with a triple scoring 10 points in the opening five minutes to power a Bears 12-3 run to start the game. But the offense stalled and went without a field goal over the next eight minutes and the Dolphins reversed a nine-point deficit into a nine-point lead, 23-14, with 7:34 before the break.
Frank Reali (Staten Island, N.Y./Susan Wagner) and Dimitri Sirakis (Hollis, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) later would combine for nine points in an 11-2 spurt to pull the Bears back even at 27-all. After two more ties, the Mount Saint Vincent closed the half on a 7-1 run, highlighted by a Makai Johnson buzzer beater from 40 feet out that sent the Dolphins in the lockers up, 37-31.
In the second stanza, the Bears only managed to pull within three briefly on two occasions, before nine straight from the visitors pushed the lead to its largest margin of 12, 52-40, at the 12-minute mark and the lead hovered in double digits until just over five minutes to play with the Dolphins still up 61-50.
A pair of Sirakis trifectas sandwiched around an Etheart triple powered a 9-0 outburst over two minutes to quickly turn a double-digit deficit into a one-possession game. The squads then traded three-pointers with Sirakis draining his third in three minutes to keep the Bears within reach, 64-61, with two minutes left.
After misses on both ends, the Dolphins held possession entering the final minute of regulation. They missed on two straight shot attempts but managed to secure two crucial offensive rebounds that helped regain possession with the shot clock turned off.
Only with two team fouls at this point and 30 ticks left, the Bears were forced to foul in succession to send the Dolphins to the line in the bonus, still trailing by three. After three quick fouls and still needing two to give, the Bears looked relegated to quickly foul again before Reali came up with a huge steal, getting his hand on the inbounds pass and saving it while falling out of bounds to get the Bears back the ball. With the clock still ticking down, Etheart pulled up for a 25-footer that knotted the game at 64-all with 15.0 left.
On the ensuing Dolphin possession, Raquis Harris was fouled driving to the hoop with 9.2 left but it was deemed a pass and the Bears still didn't reach the bonus with their sixth foul. CMSV still with possession and a chance to win, Etheart hijacked a kickout pass to the wing and went coast-to-coast for the game-winning layup with 2.3 seconds left and the stunned visitors could only muster a 70-foot heave that wouldn't find rim.
The Bears hadn't held the lead for nearly 31 minutes before Etheart's game-winning layup. St. Joseph's forced 10 more turnovers (23-13) with Etheart and Reali combining for 11 steals as the Bears finished with a 27-13 edge in points off turnovers.
For the Bears
- Sebastien Etheart scored his game-high 28 by way of 12-of-18 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point land. He also pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, swiped five steals, and handed out two assists.
- Dimitri Sirakis chipped in 13 points—nine coming in the second half—on 5-of-11 shooting with three three-pointers.
- Kavan Meiner (Staten Island, N.Y./Susan Wager), Matt McQuillen (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Peter's), and Bryan Medy (Brooklyn. N.Y./Nazareth Regional) added in six points each.
- Frank Reali finished with five points, five rebounds, and six steals.
Next up for the Bears
St. Joseph's hits the road to face Mount Saint Mary College (11-4, 8-6 Skyline) on Saturday (Jan. 26) in a Skyline matchup starting at 3 p.m. Links to live stats and video will be available on SJCBears.com