BROOKLYN, N.Y. – With the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) regular season title on the line on Senior Night in front of a packed Hill Center crowd, the No. 2 ranked St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team (16-8, 4-1 HVIAC) dropped a hard-fought battle 77-68 to No. 1 Berkeley College (17-5, 6-0 HVIAC).
The Bears fell just short of clinching their second consecutive HVIAC regular season title, losing for the first time at The Hill Center (9-1) and in conference play.
Senior David Louison (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Edmund Prep) fittingly finished his last game at The Hill Center with another double-double, his seventeenth of the season, recording team highs in points (16) and boards (13).
Junior Matt O'Neill (Brooklyn, N.Y./St. Edmund Prep) also dropped 16 on a pair of triples in addition to two assists and three thefts.
Senior Vernon Maddox (Staten Island, N.Y./St. Peter's) chipped in six points, a pair of dimes and a steal.
Senior Kenton Chan-Man and junior Keenan Langston carried the Knights on offense, netting 31 and 29 respectively.
A competitive first-half saw three ties and eight lead changes with neither side separating themselves by more than seven points.
Langston's triple at the 12:34 mark gave Berkeley a 19-12 advantage, but St. Joseph's responded with a 7-0 run in a span of just 2:02 to draw even.
DiPuma's three with 8:28 remaining in the half gave St. Joseph's their largest lead thus far (28-23) as the momentum began to swing in the Bears favor.
By the 3:21 mark, the Knights had reclaimed momentum and a 33-32 advantage following Chan-Man's triple. But the Bears entered the intermission leading 39-35 following a 7-2 run to close the period.
The second-half began with more back-and-forth fast-paced action. The Knights hung around and seemed content to trade baskets, but made a 7-0 push before the midway point of the period to grab their first lead since the first-half (49-47).
With 6:11 remaining, Langston connected on a pair from the line to give Berkeley their largest lead of the night (66-54). But O'Neill kept his team afloat, draining a pair from long range to cut the deficit in half.
The Bears flirted with a comeback as the minutes ticked away. A pair of clutch Louison free-throws made it a one-possession affair (71-68) with just 1:56 left to play. But the Knights held St. Joseph's scoreless the rest of the way to finish off the Bears and clinch the top seed in the conference.
Each side displayed high-intensity defensive efforts, forcing 19 turnovers apiece. With forward Michael Megafu (Jamaica, N.Y./Nazareth Regional) out due to injury, the Bears were outrebounded (47-34) for just the seventh time this season.
Following the game, David Louison, Vernon Maddox and Raul Urshela (Orlando, Fla./Colonial) were honored for their careers in a special Senior Night ceremony. St. Joseph's will finish off the regular season on Saturday, travelling to Albany, N.Y. for an HVIAC meeting with Albany Pharmacy at 3 p.m. before the start of the conference playoffs on Saturday, February 21.