WASHINGTON, Pa. – For the first time in the DIII era, the Franciscan men's basketball team opened its season with a win. Friday night, the Barons turned a 10-point halftime lead into an 81-68 victory over Washington & Jefferson at Henry Memorial Center.
The Barons were led by junior center Matt Trent (Cleveland, OH/Trinity) with a career-high 25 points and 15 rebounds. Trent was 10-15 from the floor and had a steal and a block for Franciscan. Sophomore Sean Hickey (North Olmstead, OH/Holy Name) put up a career-best 21 points and added two assists, two steals, and a block. Junior John Noce (Brewster, NY/John F. Kennedy Catholic) was instrumental directly the offense as he handed out three assists, picked up three steals and three rebounds while scoring nine points for the Barons.
Hickey made the first basket of the season for the Barons as he hit a jumper just over a minute into the game to give Franciscan a 2-0 lead. The Presidents would answer and take a short-lived 5-2 lead but a pair of Trent layups gave Franciscan the lead for most of the first half at the 16:43 mark. Sean Stinelli hit a three at 6:19 to tie the game at 16-16, but Noce got a steal and a fast-break layup to give the lead back to the Barons 18-16 with 5:42 to play in the half. The Barons would not surrender the lead for the rest of the game. With just over a minute to play before the break, junior Josh York (Russia, OH/Russia Local) hit a front end of a trip to the line to push the Baron lead to seven, 32-25, and senior Juwan Perkins (Detriot, MI/Oak Park) drained a three with four seconds left to send the Barons into the locker room with a 35-25 lead.
The Barons maintained control of the game for the second half and took a 14-point lead, their largest of the contest to that point, at the 15:36 mark as junior Joe Schriner (Bluffton, OH/Bluffton) hit a jumper after grabbing a defensive board at the other end of the court. The Presidents' trimmed the lead down to nine, 56-47, points with 7:15 to play as Nicholas Campalong hit both free throws. The Barons then used a 13-6 run, highlighted by a Hickey three, to take a 16-point lead, 69-53, with 3:43 to play.
With 1:27 to play and the score 72-62, freshman Justin Mack (Oxnard, CA/Oxnard) hit his first career three-pointer to give Franciscan a 75-62 lead and essentially put the game away for the Barons. Campalong answered with a three for the Presidents but a pair of free throws from Trent and Mack and stellar defense under the basket, including a block from Trent, kept W&J at bay. Trent put the final touches on the scoring with two more free throws in the final two seconds for the 81-68 win.
The Barons shot 52.7% from the floor as a team, their highest shooting percentage since Franciscan shot 56.3% against Pitt.-Bradford in the 2016-17 season. Franciscan out-rebounded the Presidents' 37-28 and scored 15 points off turnovers and 11 second-chance points.
The Barons return to the court on Tuesday when they take on Walsh in an exhibition game before traveling to Case Western Reserve on Friday for their Bill Sudeck Tournament. The Barons open the tournament against Case on Friday at 7:00 pm.