The CCRI Women’s Basketball team beat two Division I opponents on its road trip to Florida and is now off to the best start in program history. With wins over Northwest College and LSU-Eunice, the Lady Knights are now 14-1 and their only loss came to then-No. 1 Johnson County Community College.
CCRI opened its Florida trip with a 73-66 victory over Northwest College of Powell, Wyo. The Lady Knights played an excellent first half and led by 12 points 41-29. However, the Division I Trappers played very tough defense in the second half to get close, with the Knights holding on to a two-point lead late in the game. The Lady Knights were able to stay poised, and got a key three-pointer from Jess Randall (Warwick) to make the score 68-66 with less than two minutes left to play. CCRI then scored three more points to pull out the seven-point victory.
CCRI was led by Lexi Barros (New Bedford, Mass.), who had a game-high 22 points with eight rebounds, and a game-high seven steals. Jahira Smith (Norwich, Conn.) contributed 18 points, four rebounds, and three steals. Also helping the Lady Knights was Nyjah Porcher (New Britain, Conn.), who charted her eighth double-double in 14 games with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Randall added 12 points and Treedy Ward (Boynton Beach, Fla.) added seven points and three steals.
“We got off to a slow start in the beginning, but we rallied back,” said head coach Kate Lynch. “We were up most of the game. Northwest made a nice comeback at the end, but we stayed poised and made stops and shots when we needed it the most.”
In its second game, CCRI concluded the trip with an 83-68 victory over Louisiana State University-Eunice, their second win over a D-I opponent in as many days.
The Lady Bengals of LSU-Eunice came out of the gates with hot long-range shooting including five three-pointers from Lida Politopoulou, which helped give the Bengals a 20-point lead during the first half. Then, when things seemed at their worst for the Lady Knights, including an injury to a CCRI starter who would not return, they turned up the pressure and closed the gap to only six points at the half.
In the second half CCRI kept up the intensity. At the defensive end, Ward limited Politopoulou to just three second half points. On offense, Porcher tallied 18 second-half points and pulled away for the east win. Barros tallied 14 and Smith scored 11.
“I have never been so proud of a team,” Lynch said. “They showed so much heart in this game. They could have folded when we were down 20, but they didn’t. They chipped away at the lead and focused defensively, got stops, and converted. Overall, I think it was a successful trip for us. We played some very good basketball teams. This tournament tested us physically and mentally. We did a lot of positive things and we just need to keep moving forward.”
The Lady Knights return to action on January 6 when they travel to Brooklyn, N.Y. to face another very tough Division I opponent in the 10-3 Avengers of ASA College.
Knights give No. 6 PBSC a scare
The CCRI Knights men’s basketball team played their second game of the Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Fla. with a huge challenge, as the Knights took on the NJCAA Division I No. 6 ranked Panthers of Palm Beach State College, who came into the game with a perfect 16-0 record. The Knights battled tough and made it a game until the final whistle, but fell ultimately 72-61.
The Knights came out fired up and caught the host team off guard. Behind the outstanding play of their backcourt of All-American Desmond Williams (Torrington, Conn.) and Bryan Yarce (Cranston) the Knights to an early lead of 14-4. The Panthers quickly fought back to take an 18-17 lead with intense defensive pressure and went on a run of their own to go into the half with a 45-27 lead. The Knights were led in the first half by the hot shooting of Williams who had 17 first half points.
The second half saw the Knights play probably their best half of basketball this season, as they outscored the Palm Beach squad 34-27. The Knights found themselves trailing by 23 with the score 55-32, yet the Knights answered with a big run of their own. The Knights got back into the game though, and trailed by just seven points at 64-57 with three minutes to play. The Knights almost cut the lead to four points, but a three-pointer by captain Steve Bevilacqua (Exeter) just rimmed out.
Williams was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, two steals and a blocked shot and captain Isaac Medeiros (Johnston) added seven points and eight rebounds.
The Knights also got big contributions from their bench, getting 24 points, including six from Bevilacqua and six points from Steve Rush (Cranston).
“Unbelievable effort by our guys in these two games against two very tough Division I teams,” CCRI head coach Rick Harris said. “Our guys displayed spectacular mental and physical toughness, and we again made a statement regarding our team identity. Our tough national schedule which features seven top Division I opponents may not give us the prettiest record but prepares us for our goal of being the best team we can be. It is an unorthodox style and way to build a team, but having played in a national championship game, this team needs to be tested to their fullest and do all that they possibly can to give themselves the best chance possible to achieve national success.
The Knights’ next game will come at home when they will host the Vikings of Mercer County Community College from Trenton, N.J. at 2 p.m. at the Vincent A. Cullen Fieldhouse.
Knights come up just short against Manatees
In the first game of the Palm Beach State College Tournament, the Knights took on the 13-3 Manatees of the State College of Manatee-Sarasota on Saturday afternoon. The Knights lost to the Manatees 87-76.
The Manatees came into the game averaging 105.4 points per game, ranked second in D-I. CCRI did a great job controlling the tempo of the game behind the outstanding play of Yarce Yarce’s 12 first half points and freshman center Patrick Marchand’s (Cranston) 10 points helped the Knights take a 45-44 lead into halftime. The Knights came out to start the second half and took leads of 53-47 and later 62-57 with 12:00 remaining in the game. The Manatees, however, continued to speed up the game and went ahead 74-70 with 5:30 left in the game. CCRI battled to the end and trailed by just five points at 80-75 with 2:25 remaining. Down the stretch, however, CCRI missed some key free throws and came up just short.
The Knights were paced by Yarce, who scored a game-high 26 points and dished out four assists. Williams added 17 points with four assists, four rebounds and three steals. Also helping the Knights was Marchand with 16 points and seven rebounds and his frontcourt mate Medeiros, who added eight points, eight rebounds and three assists.