Men's Basketball Tops Mansfield With Strong Defensive Effort

Men's basketball player dribbling through legs.
In just eight minutes, freshman Dee-End McRae recorded five points and seven rebounds as Felician won at Mansfield on Dec. 6, 2018. (Steven R. Smith)

MANSFIELD, Pa. – The Felician University men's basketball team used a strong start and its best defensive effort of the young season to earn a 67-63 non-conference victory over host Mansfield University on Thursday night at Marion Decker Gymnasium.

Felician kept an opponent to fewer than 70 points for the first time in 2018-19. The Golden Falcons held Mansfield to 33 percent shooting from the floor, including 25 percent in the first half, and helped force 19 Mountie turnovers. Felician (2-5) snapped a five-game losing streak, winning for the first time since its season opener on Nov. 12.

Mansfield (1-6), which never led, sliced what was a 41-24 halftime deficit to 61-58 following a three-point field goal by junior Garrett Cook (Bristow, Va.) with one minute, 55 seconds, remaining in regulation time. The Mounties regained possession on a Mike Rell (Parma, Ohio) steal. Felician freshman Jaylen Colon (Paterson, N.J.), however, returned the favor, stripping Taylor Sweeney (Hershey, Pa.) of the ball.

Sweeney stayed with the play and hustled back to block Colon's lay-up attempt out of bounds at the 1:11 mark. But after the Golden Falcons in-bounded and ran the shot clock down, junior Zamir Wright (Newark, N.J.) was fouled attempting a three-pointer. Wright converted all three free throws at 0:47 for a 64-58 bulge, and following a Mountie bucket, made two more at the stripe at 0:19 to preserve the Felician victory.

Colon shot 8 for 13 from the field and recorded season highs of 17 points, five rebounds and six steals. Wright, who was 7 for 7 at the foul line, finished with 16 points and six assists. Sweeney totaled 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals for Mansfield, while Mountie junior Tyler Moffe (Elmira, N.Y.) netted 20 points, including 16 after halftime.

Wright and Colon scored five early points apiece as Felician led, 12-2, with 3 ½ minutes gone by in the contest. With 9:12 to play until halftime, the Mounties closed to with 22-19, only to see Felician complete the half with a 19-5 run. Consecutive buckets by Rahsaan Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y.) handed the Golden Falcons their largest spread, 41-23, before they settled for the 17-point halftime edge.

Moffe needed only 52 seconds to tally the first six points of period two, and a Sweeney lay-up made the score 41-32 at the 18:12 mark. Felician appeared to have weathered the storm after a Colon steal and lay-up. With 7:27 left, the visitors still led by 13 following a successful Williams jump shot. But Cook's three capped a 5 ½-minute, 12-2 run for the hosts and set up the frantic finish.

Freshman Jay'von Jackson (Plainfield, N.J.) tallied seven points and six rebounds off the Golden Falcon bench. Classmate Dee-End McRae (Irvington, N.J.) turned in five points and seven rebounds in eight minutes.

Felician breaks for final exams and does not play again until Dec. 19. The Golden Falcons host Dominican (N.Y.) College that night at 8 p.m. in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference affair.