WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Queens College men's basketball team scorched the net during the second half, connecting on 58 percent of their field goals to run past the University of the District of Columbia, 91-85, in a high-octane East Coast Conference matchup Saturday afternoon for their fourth straight win.
The win was critical for the Knights' postseason hopes, improving their conference record to 8-4 and pushing them ahead of the Firebirds into a tie for third place in the ECC standings. Senior Tyree White topped 20 points for the third consecutive game while leading four Knights scorers in double figures with 23 points and eight rebounds. Seniors Diego Maldonado and Marquis Roberts each netted 16 points, which for Roberts is a career high at Queens, and Kyheim Chaplin continued to spark the team off the bench, scoring all 14 of his points after halftime.
In a nip-and-tuck first half, the Knights were the more threatening side, extending their lead to six and then seven during the game's first ten minutes. A quick 7-0 spurt conveyed their first lead at 14-8 five minutes into the game after back-to-back jumpers by Maldonado and a basket by White. Another jump shot by White with just under 11 minutes remaining in the half broke an extended dry spell for both teams and carried the Knights' lead to seven, 21-14. UDC retaliated by scoring five unanswered from that point to bridge the gap and reestablish the game's early back-and-forth cadence. Roberts scored 10 points to lead all scorers in the first half and Maldonado added nine, but the Knights still faced a one-point deficit, 35-34, at intermission.
For all of Queens' offensive brilliance after halftime, the Firebirds were just as potent in the first portion of the second half. Because although the Knights went on to score 57 points on their aforementioned 58 percent shooting from the floor, UDC shot over 50 percent on their own attempts and capitalized on their trips to the foul line by converting 10-of-12 to keep within striking distance.
This was manifested early on after White attacked the basket for six points within the half's first three minutes to boost Queens to a five-point advantage, 45-40. A three-pointer by UDC's Joseph Nickerson capped seven straight points from the home team in response as they surged to retake the lead, 47-45, with 14:35 remaining. The Firebirds continued to keep pace with Queens, leveling the score at 56 with nine minutes to go before the Knights began to push ahead. Two second-chance baskets by White and a three-pointer from Maldonado gave Queens a 63-56 advantage. The lead then ballooned to double-digits for the first time after another second-chance bucket, this time by Chaplin, made the margin 73-63 with just under five minutes to go, and it reached as many as 11 on two occasions before the Knights ended up winning by six.
The loss continues a precipitous fall for the Firebirds, who have now lost three straight and hold a 7-4 conference record for fifth place. UDC was led in scoring by senior guard Kasim Chandler with 23 points, and junior guard Khalil Jackson added 20 points off the bench on 9-of-12 shooting.
The Knights will have a chance to push their current streak to five games when they return home for a conference matchup with Molloy College on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. as part of Queens College's annual Coaches vs. Cancer doubleheader.