By Dylan Butler
WEST HAVEN, CONN. — For 20 minutes, Ismael Caro was the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
For 20 minutes, the senior on the New Haven men’s basketball team looked like the sharpshooter who was recruited and played at Division I Creighton before transferring back home two years ago.
And it was Caro’s first half that buried Queens College in an 85-60 drubbing at the University of New Haven Monday night.
The 6-foot guard from Hartford, Conn. scored 22 points, including 4-of-4 from three-point range to help stake New Haven (19-6, 16-6 NYCAC) to a 49-26 halftime lead.
And it’s not as if Queens didn’t closely guard the leading scorer in the NYCAC.
“He’s very good and I thought Carnell (Campbell) and Greg (Dickinson) did a great job, but what else were they going to do,” said Queens College coach Kyrk Peponakis. “The guy made shots.”
Caro’s lights-out shooting proved contagious for the Chargers. Jamaal Brooks went 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and Bryan Moriarty’s three-pointer midway through the first half capped a 19-3 run for New Haven, which jumped out to an 11-2 lead.
New Haven shot 59.4 percent (19-for-32) from the field and 77.8 percent (7-for-9) from three-point range in the first half.
“We made shots and when you make shots you look good,” said New Haven coach Jay Young. “I really think (Queens) is a good basketball team and we just got our offense going, and on nights when it’s going like that everything works.”
On his lone field goal of the second half, a three-pointer from the top of the key with 17:21 left, Caro, who also had a game-high eight assists, reached the 1,000-point plateau in just his second season at New Haven.
Queens junior John Sikiric, who scored his 1,000th point in a 91-78 win over Southampton Saturday, struggled mightily.
After shooting 1-for-8 in the first half, including 0-for-4 from three-point range — collectively Queens was 0-for-11 from three-point range in the first half — the former Molloy standout missed all five of his field goal attempts in the second half and finished with six points.
“We had the same looks we’ve been getting and didn’t make any of them,” Peponakis said. “We’re not going to win if we don’t shoot it, but I never saw all of us not shoot the ball and that’s what I saw tonight.”
Shaun Bertin led Queens (11-14, 10-12) with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Rob Villanueva added 11 points and five rebounds as the Knights still hold their NYCAC tournament hopes in their own hands.
Victories over Molloy and New York Tech this week would guarantee a tournament bid as Queens can finish as high as sixth.
“We got good looks, but the rim had a lid on it,” Bertin said. “We just have to come out next game and put the ball in the hole.”
Queens women’s streak snapped at nine. It was a bad omen right from the beginning.
The looks were good, but the shots were not for the Queens College women’s basketball team, which saw its nine-game winning streak snapped at New Haven Monday in a 70-60 loss.
New Haven, atop the NYCAC conference, remains undefeated at home (11-0) thanks again to a terrific trio of freshmen.
Ashley Hilton had 16 points, Tristan Jackson had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Jennifer Shoemaker added 10 points for the Chargers, who closed out the first half on a 14-2 run to take a 34-21 lead at the break.
“For a team that’s playing as many freshmen as they do, they’re very impressive,” Queens coach Denis Conroy said. “For whatever reason, we haven’t shot well here … and in the first half that killed us.”
After back-to-back three pointers by Erin Dollard, who recorded her 1,000th career point, and Lauren Tartamella, Queens (16-9, 15-7 NYCAC) was within 36-28 less than three minutes into the second half. But New Haven (18-7, 18-4) put the game away with a 13-2 run with 12:11 left.
Shonda Holder had 26 points and eight rebounds but did not get the support from the perimeter she has gotten in the last month. Amy Mulligan had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds, but Erin White, Dollard and Tartamella combined for 13 points on 5-of-25 shooting.
After playing at Molloy in a game scheduled for Wednesday, Queens hosts New York Tech Saturday at 5 p.m. and still has an excellent shot at hosting a NYCAC quarterfinal game Tuesday.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.