Adelphi Panthers claw past Queens in OT

By Dylan Butler

“Today I wrote just fight it out.”Queens did just that in what was yet another typical gritty Queens/Adelphi showdown. But perhaps Peponakis should have added, “and make some free throws,” as a P.S. to that message.Queens did well to force overtime, but shot just 64.3 percent from the foul line in a 72-69 loss at Fitzgerald Gymnasium in Flushing.Led by Christ the King grad Eric Martin, who scored a game-high 20 points, Adelphi (13-3, 12-1) won its eighth straight game and remain in sole possession of first place in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference.Queens dropped to 12-4, 10-3 in the NYCAC and are tied with Bridgeport for second in the league.”The game just came down to being tough and being physical but they bring it every day,” Peponakis said. “They're the best defensive team and they don't have a guy who blocks one shot. They just push you in the back, get you off the blocks, and make it tough for you to move in the post.”After trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, Queens furiously rallied late to tie the game at 66 on four straight points by Hassan Washington. The sophomore point guard also scored seven straight points during a key 10-0 run midway through the second half en route to 15 points.The Knights had a chance to win the game in regulation, but forward Shaun Bertin was stripped by Ben Kenyon under the basket with four seconds left.Adelphi scored the first five points of overtime, but Queens rallied and took its first lead since the first half, 68-66 on a flying putback by Bradd Wierzbicki, who scored 16 points in a rare start, with 1:27 left.But Adelphi raced down court and guard Aaron Cummings hit his lone field goal of the game, a 3-pointer to give Adelphi the lead for good, 68-66 with 55 seconds left.”Huge shot, that wins the game for us,” Adelphi coach James Cosgrove said. “Honestly, Queens outplayed us. We had to make a huge 3-pointer to get out of here with the win.”After Bertin missed a “gimmie” down low, Cummings sunk a pair of free throws to put the Panthers in front, 71-68 with 27.2 seconds left. Bertin got the ball again, but this time his attempted 3-point play rimmed just out. Bertin went 1-for-2 from the foul line – one of 10 misses from the line for Queens.Samuel Jenkins, who missed all four shots from the field he attempted, went to the line and drained one free throw with 10.7 seconds left, setting up one last chance for Queens.Realizing that Adelphi would overplay star John Sikiric, who had 16 points but was harassed throughout by James Samuels and Kenyon, Wierzbicki got the call. He received the ball by the left baseline and was forced to slightly alter his game-tying 3-point attempt to avoid Adelphi's Kimani Blaize.But Wierzbicki's shot with four seconds left was short and Queens was left to contemplate another last second loss to Adelphi. It's the third straight season that Queens missed a last second shot – Greg Dickinson had the other two 3-pointers that just missed.”It felt alright. I had to shoot from the side a little because (Blaize) was on my right hip,” Wierzbicki said. “It looked really straight but I didn't get it over the rim.”Adelphi was able to hold on, despite being without starter Jamaal Wagner for the final 23 minutes of the game. The former Molloy standout picked up his fourth foul trying to run through a screen set by Sikiric, a former high school teammate, and then fouled out when he was hit with a technical foul for cursing the initial call with 18:04 left in the second half.But Sikiric missed both free throws.”If we didn't play as hard as we did we would have gotten killed,” Sikiric said. “It hurts so much realizing that a free throw or a layup would have won us the game.”Queens College 77, Dowling College 71. Bertin had 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Sikiric had 14 points, Wierzbicki had 12 and Washington added 10 for the Knights last Thursday at Fitzgerald Gymnasium.Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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