By Dylan Butler
“Offensive” was the word of the night Saturday, and it did not just refer to the officials’ favorite foul call in the men’s basketball game between Queens College and Mercy College.
It also describes the two struggling teams’ play down the stretch of Mercy’s 71-70 overtime win at Westchester Community College.
How else can you explain Mercy’s Kris Laurenceau’s beating all five Knights to a loose ball and grabbing his own rebound after two missed free throws with 18.6 seconds left in overtime despite all of his teammates’ standing behind him?
Or Greg Dickinson’s third last-second missed three-point attempt in less than a week? Or an air ball by Nick Volchok on a free throw with 14.7 seconds left that would have sealed the game for Mercy?
And that was just overtime.
“We haven’t played well. If we play well, that will take care of the winning,” said Queens coach Kyrk Peponakis, who held a two-hour meeting with his team back at Queens after the game. “We need one (win). If we would have gotten one tonight that would have been great, but I just want us to play well.”
Each team entered the game riding a five-game losing streak and it showed throughout the ugly contest. After leading 32-29 at the half, Queens (6-10, 5-8 NYCAC) shot 28.6 percent (8-for-28) from the field in the second half, keeping the Flyers, who lost starting point guard Dana Holmes and center Kevin Green for the season with knee injuries, in the game.
Mercy led 55-47 on a three-pointer by Volchok with 4:45 left in the second half, but Queens rallied to tie the game at 57 on consecutive baskets by freshman Hassan Washington, who was one of three Knights to foul out in a game that featured 52 total fouls.
After a questionable offensive foul called on Volchok along the baseline — the third charge called in the final two minutes — the Knights had a chance to end their losing streak.
But freshman Bradd Wierzbicki’s attempted layup bounced off the front of the rim and a game that should have been stopped early was extended five more minutes.
Wierzbicki put Queens in front with a layup eight seconds into overtime, but Mercy (5-8, 3-8) went on a 12-1 run to take a commanding 68-60 lead with 1:46 left.
But then Ofir Binyamin, who entered the game after John Sikiric fouled out, nailed his lone three-point attempt, Shaun Bertin scored down low and Dickinson added a pair of free throws to bring the Knights within 69-67 with 19.9 seconds left.
“It was like we couldn’t handle prosperity,” said Mercy coach Steve Kelly. “It was one of those nights where nothing was going right for either one of us.”
A second later Laurenceau missed a pair of free throws but beat all five Knights to the ball and grabbed the rebound before calling a timeout. After embarrassingly missing the net on his first free-throw attempt, Volchok put Mercy ahead, 70-67, with 14.7 seconds left.
Dickinson missed a three-point attempt from the right wing, a shot that Kelly thought “looked good from my angle.”
Volchok went 1-for-2 from the line again before Carnell Campbell’s cosmetic three-pointer at the buzzer.
“We’re right there but we can’t get over the hump,” Sikiric said. “We just have to play hard and play better. We’re not doing that right now.”
Dominick Cuzzi led Mercy with 17 points, Alwyn Waldron had 16 points and 19 rebounds, Laurenceau scored 13 points and Volchok added 10 points.
Sikiric scored a team-high 18 points, Washington had 13 and Rob Villanueva and Dickinson scored 10 points apiece for Queens, which faces the difficult task of playing at New Haven (Wednesday), Philadelphia University (Saturday) and Bridgeport (Tuesday) in the coming week.
Queens College 50, Mercy College 37. Shonda Holder had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Amy Mulligan had seven points and 13 rebounds — including 10 offensive boards — for the Lady Knights (8-8, 7-6), who snapped a five-game losing streak.
Jody Trap had 15 points for struggling Mercy (1-14, 1-13), which shot 32.1 percent (18-for-56) from the field.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.