Men's Basketball On Short End Of Back-And-Forth Season Opener

Terrell Spaulding recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds in a season-opening loss at Daemen. (Steven R. Smith)
Terrell Spaulding recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds in a season-opening loss at Daemen. (Steven R. Smith)

AMHERST, N.Y. – Daemen University took the lead for good with six minutes, 25 seconds, left in regulation time and held off a late Felician University charge to earn a 62-57 non-conference men's basketball victory over the visiting Golden Falcons on Friday night at Lumsden Gymnasium.

The game marked the 2017-18 season opener for both teams, and came on the opening day of play of the 2017 East Coast Conference-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Challenge, Presented by Western New York Knee and Orthopedic Surgery, PC.

Junior guard Terrell Spaulding (Paterson, N.J.) paced Felician with 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Senior forward Aleks Miljenovic (Belgrade, Serbia) topped four double-figure scorers for the Wildcats, garnering 16 points and nine rebounds.

Friday's lead changed hands on 13 occasions. A three-point field goal by Felician senior Gjaimeir Stanford (Wilmington, Del.) put the visitors on top, 50-48, with 8:34 left to play. Daemen cut the lead in half when Deion Hamilton (Rochester, N.Y.) split a pair of free throws at the 7:47 mark. It turned out to be the start of a game-changing 8-0 run for the Wildcats.

A Miljenovic lay-up at the 6:25 mark gave Daemen the lead it would never relinquish. Following a Jay Sarkis (Rochester, N.Y.) three-pointer and two Hamilton free throws, the hosts led, 56-50, with 4:53 to play.

After the teams traded baskets, both went cold. Two Zamir Wright (Newark, N.J.) free throws pulled the Golden Falcons to within 58-54 with 3:16 on the clock, and that score held until the 1:10 mark, when a conventional three-point play by Spaulding made it a one-point game.

But Felician could not keep the Wildcats off the offensive boards, with Hamilton being fouled and making two at the line on a third opportunity for his team. By then, only 0:33 remained. Felician misfired out of a timeout, and Hamilton sealed the game at the foul line. Seven of his 14 points on the night came at the charity stripe.

Both teams struggled to find their shooting touch. Daemen shot 32 percent from the floor and 21 percent from three-point range to outlast Felician, which hit on 34 percent of its shots and also 21 percent from beyond the arc.

The teams traded the lead seven times in the first half before a last-second jumper by Spaulding sent the teams into intermission even at 28-28.

Stanford finished with 11 points and four assists and Wright also scored 11 points for the Golden Falcons, who conclude their stay at the tournament with a 2 p.m. tip-off on Saturday against Roberts Wesleyan College in Amherst.