By David Spiegel
NEWBURGH – The Mount Saint Mary College men’s basketball team put a capacity crowd through an emotional rollercoaster en route to a 69-58 Skyline Conference victory over Farmingdale State College Saturday afternoon at the Kaplan Center to conclude their regular-season schedule. The Knights also celebrated their seven seniors as part of a Senior Day ceremony prior to tip-off.
Seniors Steve Phillips, Donte Howell, Anthony Cipriano, Chris Pisciotta, Joe Stabach, Joe Henain and AJ Uhl were recognized 30 minutes before Saturday’s tip-off. Each senior was joined by his parents and received a gift to celebrate his four years with the Black and Blue.
The first 10 minutes of the game showed that a defensive battle was about to ensue. The Knights managed to pull out to a 10-point lead at 16-6 on a jumper by Henain, but the Rams hung tight and did not let the game get away.
Donald Lawes threw down back-to-back alley-oops to swing the momentum back to the green team, who cut the deficit to two points just 40 seconds later. Lawes slammed down a third dunk before the break to cut the Knight lead to two once again, but a Howell free throw put the Knights back up by three before the intermission. Lawes was flagged with a technical foul after the buzzer, which carried over into the beginning of the second half.
The Knights took full advantage of Lawes’ technical foul, as Cipriano sank a pair of free throws before the half began. The Rams responded by scoring the first five points after play restarted to tie the game at 35. Howell and Stabach stole the momentum back with back-to-back threes to take a six-point advantage. The Rams turned the tables right back in their favor with an 8-1 run, taking their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Their lead did not exceed a single point before the Knights took over once again.
Stabach did what he does best and drained a trey to give the Knights a two-point lead. After some back-and-forth scoring, Stabach did it again to push the Knight lead to five. A minute later, Stabach sank another long ball to put the Knights up 59-52. After a Wilson Molina layup for the Rams, Howell fired one home from long range to leave the Knights up, 62-54.
Neither team scored a point for the next three minutes, but Stabach ended the drought with another three-pointer to push the Mount lead to double-digits.
Stabach drained seven three-pointers, matching his season-high from last month against SUNY College at Old Westbury. His 21 points were a game high. Howell was right behind him with 16 points, and he also grabbed four rebounds and handed out three assists. Henain pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, adding nine points and four blocks, leaving him just two shy of his program record of 68 in a single season.
Sophomore guard Stephen Steyer provided a huge lift for the Knights off the bench, doing a little bit of everything with four points, five boards, five assists and a steal. Pisciotta was right there with him with six points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Donald Lawes picked up a double-double for the Rams, scoring a team-high 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Curtis Williams also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 boards. Jonathan Annan and Wilson Molina matched with three assists, while Molina also stole the ball four times.
As the No. 2 seed in the Skyline Conference Championship tournament, the Knights have earned a bye to the semifinals. They will host that semifinal matchup on Thursday, Feb. 27, with a tip-off time of 8 p.m.