WASHINGTON - The Gallaudet University men's basketball team's conference win streak continued here Saturday but it didn't come easily against SUNY Poly in the Field House.
The Bison had to dig themselves out of a huge hole and held onto a lead down the stretch as GU escaped with a 74-69 win in a North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) clash of the top team in the South Division and one of the top teams in the North Division.
Gallaudet (12-3, 10-0 NEAC South) trailed by as much as 13 points in the first half as SUNY Poly (8-6, 5-2 NEAC North) took a 36-31 lead into halftime.
The Bison got their first lead at the 10:49 mark in the second half after two made free throws from freshman forward Connor Henze (Elk Point, S.D.). Gallaudet quickly added five more points before the Wildcats responded with a lay-up minutes later.
The game remained tight for the rest of its duration. SUNY Poly tied the game twice before taking a brief 61-60 lead after a made jumper by Quayshaun Mitchell (11 points) at the 3:37 mark.
GU freshman guard Noah Valencia (Riverside, Calif.) came through with a big 3-pointer while Henze and junior forward Andy Cruz (Bronx, N.Y.) made baskets to give the Bison a 69-63 lead with a minute left.
SUNY Poly made it interesting and cut the margin to three points, twice, in the final 30 seconds but Gallaudet made four big free throws to claim victory.
Cruz led all-scorers with 22 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. Senior guard Raymond Nelson (Riverside, Calif.) poured in 13 points while Valencia finished with 12 and senior center Joshua McGriff (Somerset, N.J.) added 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
SUNY Poly, like Gallaudet, had four scorers in double figures. Kevin Williams led the way for the Wildcats with 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
- Henze finished with a career best eight points and four rebounds in 16 critical minutes
- The Bison made five 3-pointers
- GU held a 28-18 edge in points in the paint
- The Bison scored 22 points off 24 SUNY Poly turnovers
- Gallaudet had 12 fast break points
- The game featured five lead changes and six ties
- SUNY Poly led for nearly 29 minutes of the game
Gallaudet returns to the court tomorrow (Sunday, Jan. 22) for a 2 p.m. NEAC game against SUNY Cobleskill (2-11, 2-5 NEAC) in the Field House.