Nazareth hands Stevens first E8 defeat
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Visiting Nazareth featured a balanced scoring attack as four players finished in double figures in points to help the Golden Flyers fend off the Ducks' furious second half rally, 74-67. Sophomore Brad Ford amassed a team-high 20 points and collected seven rebounds for Nazareth. Senior Jason Corletta tallied 17 points while senior Phil Scaffidi and freshman Jamell Johnson added 10 points apiece.
With the victory, the Golden Flyers move into a tie for first place in the Empire 8 standings with a 4-1 conference record. Nazareth stands at 11-5 overall. The loss drops Stevens to 12-3 overall. Friday's loss was the Ducks' first conference loss, and Stevens also stands at 4-1 in the Empire 8. Nazareth's victory over Stevens extends the Golden Flyers' winning streak to four games.
The Golden Flyers sealed the victory by finishing 11-12 from the free throw line in the final 1:23. Corletta was a perfect 6-6 on his free throw opportunities in the final 83 seconds. Scaffidi and senior Tyshun Stephens also connected on multiple free throws in the final minute. Nazareth was 20-25 (80 percent) from the charity stripe for the game.
After building a game-high 14-point lead, Stevens outscored the Golden Flyers 22-9 over 11 minutes to trim Nazareth's lead to one point with 4:06 to play. Stevens finished 9-15 (60 percent) from the field during their run. The Ducks' defense slowed the Golden Flyers' attack by playing in a 2-3 zone.
Despite the Ducks' run, Nazareth refused to surrender its lead. After trading baskets, Ford provided the Golden Flyers with insurance points as he connected on a hook shot off the backboard to extend Nazareth's lead. On the Golden Flyers' next possession, Johnson connected on long three-point shot with the shot clock winding down to provide the Golden Flyers with a six-point advantage with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. Following Johnson's three, Stevens was only able to close to within three points of Nazareth, 65-62. The Golden Flyers' clutch free throw shooting provided the seven-point margin of victory. Thanks to its timely baskets and free throw shooting, Nazareth never trailed.
In the first half, Nazareth stretched its lead to 11 points, 16-5, in the first 6:09 of the game. The Golden Flyers' torrid start included making six of their first nine field goals, two of which were three-pointers. Just 10 seconds into the game, Corletta started the run with a shot from beyond the arc. Ford scored five straight points with a three-pointer and a layup, followed by two free throws by Stephens. After a basket by the Ducks, consecutive two-point jumpers by Corletta, Ford, and Stephens provided the Golden Flyers with the early double-digit lead.
Nazareth finished 16-30 (53 percent) from the field in the first half. Ford was 6-7 on his field goal attempts to record 13 points in the first 20 minutes. In the first period, the Golden Flyers' stingy defense held the Ducks to 11-29 (38 percent) from the field to maintain their lead. Stevens converted 7 of its 11 free throws to cut into Nazareth's lead. The Golden Flyers had just two opportunities from the free throw line in the first half.
The Golden Flyers opened the second half with a 6-0 scoring run in a span of 2:19 to rebuild their 11-point advantage. A few minutes later, a three-point basket by Johnson extended Nazareth's lead to a game-high 14 points, 47-33, with 15:15 to play in regulation. The Golden Flyers' tenacious defense held the Ducks to 1 of 6 on field goal attempts to help Nazareth build its 14-point lead.
In addition to the players who finished in double figures for the Golden Flyers' offense, Stephens added eight points and senior Greg Lothridge chipped in seven points. After hitting over half of their shots in the first period, Nazareth settled for a respectable 25-55 (46 percent) from the field for the game. The Ducks entered the game allowing opponents less than 38 percent on field goal attempts.
Sheldon Jones (21 points), Simon Smith (13 points), and Russ Thompson (12 points) all scored in double digits for Stevens. The Ducks finished with a 40-32 advantage in total rebounds thanks to a 16-8 advantage on the offensive glass. Stevens finished with making 26-64 (41 percent) of their field goals over the course of the game after its slow start.
The Golden Flyers resume Empire 8 action on Saturday with a road game at Hartwick. Nazareth returns home to face St. John Fisher in another conference contest on January 24th.