The Berkeley College men's basketball team picked up a statement victory on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Vikings of Villa Maria by a score of 94-82. The game was played at the Villa Athletic Center in Buffalo, NY. The victory – the Knights' 13th consecutive triumph – improved Berkeley's record to 16-1 on the season. The Vikings – who had come into today winners of four straight contests – dropped to 18-4 with the loss. Following the win for the Knights, Head Coach Jonathan Pena praised his team.
"While we executed on the offensive side today, I was especially impressed with our defensive tenacity today – especially against a team like Villa Maria," Pena said. "We recorded 12 steals on the day, while holding them to just four three-point baskets for the game. I know we have a very balanced offense, but when we're hitting on all cylinders defensively as well, it makes us a very tough team to beat. We'll enjoy this great win tonight, and then we'll come back tomorrow ready to go against SUNY-ESF."
The Knights' win over Villa Maria was especially important because the Vikings were listed as the No. 1 team in the most recent USCAA Coaches Poll. This game featured two of the best teams in this National conference, and Berkeley College solidified itself as perhaps the best team in the USCAA with this impressive road triumph.
Leading the way for Berkeley College was Michael Taylor – as he connected on nine of his 19 attempts on the floor – including three triples – to record a team-high 25 points. He also added 10 rebounds, a game-high eight assists, and three blocks. Veteran Johnnie Green dropped-in 23 points while snatching four rebounds, and Demetri Stewart dripped six of his eight attempts from the floor to finish with 12 points. He also contributed four rebounds as well. Finally, it was Shamoree Strawn hit eight of his 10 shots from the charity stripe to finalize his day with eight points, 10 rebounds, and four steals.
Despite the loss for Villa Maria, the Vikings were led by Lonnie Taylor, who was downright unstoppable on the offensive side. He hit 15 of his 20 shots from the floor to finish with a game-high 30 points. He also snatched eight offensive rebounds (and 10 total boards), and tallied three steals. Dominic Douglas and DeJaun Owens combined to shoot 11-of-12 from the charity stripe, while both finishing with 11 points apiece. Jay Scarbrough added 10 points and six rebounds.
A converted layup by Green – and a drilled three-point basket by Taylor – gave Berkeley College an early 5-0 lead. The Knights later led the Vikings by a score of 13-6, but Villa Maria would storm back with a 14-8 run to pull to within a point at 21-20. Berkeley would answer with a 9-0 run to grab a 30-20 edge with 6:36 remaining in the half. That aforementioned run featured converted layups by Taylor and Stewart, another hoop by Taylor, and a successful three-point play (basket plus the made free throw). The Vikings kept things close, pulling to within five on numerous occasions before Berkeley took a 48-41 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Berkeley College later led 65-59 with 10:05 remaining in the game, but the Vikings would use a converted three-point basket by Daniel Thompson, a fastbreak dunk by Dominic Douglas, and a good layup by Scarbough to take their first lead of the game at 66-65 with 9:12 to play.
Of course, the tide would turn on a basket from Michael Taylor, as the senior drilled a three-point basket to put Berkeley back on top by a score of 68-66. Over the ensuing 4:51, the Knights put together a 13-4 run to go ahead 81-70. Villa Maria would never get any close than seven points down, and Berkeley College would go on to win the game by 12.
Both teams shot well from the floor, with the Knights hitting on 47.2 percent of their attempts from the floor (34-72) compared to 42.7 percent for the Vikings (32-75). Berkeley held a slight 49-46 edge in the rebounding department, The Knights committed 18 turnovers while forcing 22 opposition miscues, and Berkeley recorded 12 steals compared to 11 for Villa Maria.
The Knights will return to action tomorrow afternoon, as Berkeley will take on Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe SUNY-ESF. The game will take place in Syracuse, NY, and start-time is 3:00pm.