Valiants Use Late Rally to Stun Knights, Advance to AJ Classic Title Game

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PURCHASE, N.Y. – Playing in a tournament newly dedicated to their former teammate, perhaps the Manhattanville men's basketball team got a little outside help in picking up easily their most dramatic and improbable win of the season so far.

Down by 12 points with 2:30 remaining in the contest, Manhattanville closed the game on a 17-2 run to pull out a miraculous 77-74 victory over Berkeley (N.Y.) on day one of the 2012 AJ Buchanan Classic, hosted by Manhattanville at Kennedy Gymnasium on Friday night.
With the comeback win, Manhattanville advances to the championship round tomorrow where the Valiants will face off with Lynchburg, 69-54 winners over Gordon in Friday's first game, beginning at 4 p.m. and streaming live on GoValiants.TV starting at 3:50 p.m. Berkeley and Gordon will play the consolation game tomorrow at 2 p.m.
The Valiants certainly looked to be headed to the consolation round with under three minutes remaining, when Jovan Bovell hit a fast-break layup to put the Knights up 72-60. But the home team scored six points in 29 seconds to get back into the game, as junior Jack Bramswig (Pleasantville, N.Y./Pleasantville) hit a layup and back-to-back steals by freshman Anthony Maestre (Bronx, N.Y./Mount St. Michael Academy) and junior Colin Campbell (Miami, Fla./LaSalle) led to a pair of Campbell buckets to make it 72-66 with 1:55 left.
Bovell was fouled on the next possession and hit two free throws, but freshman Connor Quigley (Pelham, N.Y./Pelham Memorial) followed with a big three from the corner to cut the lead to five with 1:28 left. After a Berkeley turnover, Quigley nailed a second three-ball from the same spot to make it a one-point game with less than a minute to go, and Bramswig came up with a huge steal on the next Knights' possession to give his team a chance.
After a timeout, Campbell drove from the right corner and absorbed a hit while sinking a nice running jumper, and the junior sunk the subsequent free throw to give Manhattanville its first lead of the night at 75-74 with 19 seconds left . Kaseem Williams missed a jumper at the other end and Maestre sunk a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game with four seconds remaining, and Jose Stable's three-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out to get the Valiants the win.
A bunch of players contributed to the comeback victory, led by Bramswig with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds. Maestre had a good game with 15 points, a season-high nine assists, five rebounds and three steals, and Campbell matched him points-wise while also chipping in four steals, two assists and four rebounds. Graduate student Craig Augustine (Citrus, Fla./Citrus) added 13 points and five rebounds coming off the bench, while Quigley made his minutes count with six huge second-half points.
Bovell was excellent on the other end of the court for Berkeley, leading all players with 34 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field, while Stable added 21 points, six assists, a game-high five steals and eight rebounds. Williams, the team's leading scorer this year, was held to four points on 2-of-13 shooting, although he did add seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
After a tough-shooting first half, Manhattanville shot 48.6 percent in the second half to finish at 41.8 percent (28 for 67) from the field on the night. Conversely, Berkeley cooled down considerably after hitting 17 of 33 shots (51.5 percent) in the first half, finishing the night at 42.9 percent (30 for 70).
Thanks in large part to Bramswig and Augustine coming off the bench, Manhattanville boasted a huge 44-24 edge in bench points, while the Valiants also were able to turn 25 Berkeley turnovers into 35 points, giving the team a 35-13 edge in that category as well.

In the first game of the day, Michael Wims led all players with 22 points to lead Lynchburg to a 69-54 win over Gordon.

Wims added four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block for a nice all-around effort, and he was helped along by Brandan Connor with 10 points - including an 8-of-10 showing from the line - to go with six rebounds and six steals.

David Dempsey led Gordon with a team-leading 13 points and seven rebounds, followed by Taylor Bajema with 11 points and five boards.

Neither team shot the ball well on the evening, as Gordon finished the night with the better shooting percentage at 36.2 percent (17 for 47) from the field. Despite hitting only 9 of 31 shots (29.0 percent) in the second half and 5 of 26 from beyond the arc, Lynchburg managed to earn the win by forcing 26 Fighting Scots turnovers and converting them into 28 points on the other end.