By Dylan Butler
After Leon Martinez's free throw put the Clippers ahead 75-73 with 21.4 seconds remaining, Phil Lyons pushed the ball up court. He dished to Anthony Washington just past half court and the freshman forward was set to give the ball to Gary DeBerry to set up the game-tying shot.
But, almost fittingly, the ball went off DeBerry's fingertips and out of bounds and with it went Queens' four-game winning streak as the Knights fell to New York Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Concordia, 79-75, at Fitzgerald Gymnasium Monday night. The Clippers also sweep the season series, 2-0.
“We didn't deserve to win tonight. [Concordia] played their butts off against us,” said Queens College head coach Kyrk Peponakis. “This game is no different than any other game for us; play hard and we'll win, don't play hard and we lose.”
“I should have caught the ball, that was the game right there,” added DeBerry, who had seven points, including a clutch three from of the top of the key to cut the Clippers' lead to 74-73 with 27.4 seconds left. “I honestly believe if I would have caught the ball we would have scored. If I got things going the whole game…it just wasn't my night and that turnover proved that.”
While DeBerry's turnover was the final and definitive nail in the Knights' coffin, there were many other factors that led to Queens' demise. There were the 26 turnovers – 15 in the first half – when Concordia (4-11, 4-7) applied little to no pressure.
There was the rebounding and the boxing out, or lack thereof, from Queens (9-7, 7-5). Despite outrebounding Concordia 43-41, it was the Clippers who made the most of their 18 offensive rebounds, more often than not for easy putbacks.
“They beat us inside on the boards,” Peponakis said. “We won [the rebounds] by two? I want a recount. We shoot ourselves in the foot with 26 turnovers – 26.”
But what was more frustrating for Peponakis and his coaching staff, what had them scratching their heads in disbelief after the game, was the Knights' lack of effort throughout the game.
“We can't keep playing like that, good teams don't play like that,” Peponakis said. “We're like a tease. We play great against Philadelphia University and C.W. Post and then we have games like [losses against] the University of Bridgeport and Concordia. Why can't we play like [we did against Philadelphia and C.W. Post] all the time?”
If there was one bright spot it was the inspired play of sophomore Dave Trani. When the Knights struggled to hit from outside in the first half, it was the 6-foot-3 forward who put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket for buckets or to draw fouls.
Defensively, the Northport native did a great job of boxing out 6-foot-9 Charles Paul, who finished with 16 points. Trani had a game-high 23 points and was tied with Will Hooks and Steve Sikiric with nine rebounds.
“I'm very proud of him, it's what we talk about – effort,” Peponakis said. “You don't have to be the tallest, the biggest, the strongest, you just have to play hard. Everything he did today I was happy with.”
Added DeBerry: “He did a great job in there battling with their big guys, he definitely gave a great effort tonight like he always does.”
But unfortunately for the Knights, Trani's play did not prove contagious through most of the game. After leading 19-14 early, Concordia went on a 10-0 run, capped by a Martinez layup as the Clippers led 24-19 with 7:24 left in the first half. They would never trail again.
Led by guard Tim Hyland, who scored 18 points, Concordia extended a 38-29 halftime lead to 12 on a three-point play by Junior Dufane and held at least a seven-point lead through most of the second half.
Trailing 70-61 with 3:11 left, the Knights finally started to play. Trani nailed a three from the right side to cut the lead to 70-64. Concordia certainly helped matters by going 5-for-10 from the free throw line over the next 2:26. DeBerry had five of his seven points in the final 42.7 seconds, but it was too little, too late for Queens as its promising four-game winning streak came crashing to a halt.
“That's what makes this hurt that much more,” Trani said. “We put four wins together and we were at the highest of highs. Now we're back down again.”
Queens 71, Dowling 65. Trani scored 16 and Washington, who was named NYCAC Rookie of the Week, added 15 points and nine rebounds as the Knights swept the season series of Dowling Saturday afternoon at the LaSalle Center in Oakdale.
After a tough road game at Southampton (6-9, 5-6) Wednesday, the Knights host New York Tech (11-4, 7-4) Saturday at 8 p.m.