PHILADELPHIA – The University of the Sciences men's basketball team closed the game on a 26-6 run over the final 10:13 to overcome a deficit that reached as high as 15 in the first half in a 64-56 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) triumph over Chestnut Hill on Saturday afternoon at Bobby Morgan Arena.
Trailing 38-50 after a Chestnut Hill 3-pointer with 10:40 remaining, USciences (7-3, 3-0 CACC South) began its surge with seven straight points as Brendan Crawford made a jumper and JJ Melchior nailed a trifecta before two Paddy Casey free throws with 7:24 showing.
The Griffins did push the lead back to seven with two free throws of their own 45 seconds later but this time University of the Sciences rattled off 15 straight - beginning with four Casey points and a Brandon Starr layup - over the next 5:32 to put an exclamation point on a 24-2 stretch.
Casey scored 12 of his game and career-high 18 during the run, including the final two with foul shots that made the score 62-52 with just 1:07 to play.
Flo Da-Silva was the only other Devil with multiple points during the surge, as it was his layup that gave USciences its first lead, 53-52, with 4:03 left. Casey then made a jumper before making a steal and finding a streaking Da-Silva for a layup to push the lead to five with 2:57 to go.
Exactly one minute later, Casey buried a triple to make the score 60-52.
In total, University of the Sciences held Chestnut Hill to just one made field goal over the final 10:39. The Griffins shot just 8-for-24 in the half after making 14-of-27 field goals in the first.
Aside from its defense down the stretch, USciences also used a dominant rebounding performance, 49-28, to outscore Chestnut Hill 19-4 in second chance points. The Devils also forced 19 turnovers, leading to a 27-10 edge in points off turnovers.
Da-Silva forced seven of those turnovers with a new career-high in steals (the fourth-most in the NCAA this season) as University of the Sciences forced 13 as a team, its most since forcing 14 in a win over Pitt-Johnstown on Nov. 30, 2013. The senior added 16 points and 10 rebounds – as well as a team-best four assists and a block - for his second consecutive double-double and third of the season.
He was one of two Devils to finish with double-doubles, as Beni Toure recorded 10 points and matched his career-best with a game-high 11 rebounds for his second career double-double.
In addition to his 18 points, Casey matched his career-best with four steals and added three assists and a block.
Starr, making his first career start, matched his career-best with four rebounds, while Tanner Kerr (five rebounds), Brandon Hathaway (two points and three rebounds) and Michael Fox (one assist) came off the bench to set new season-highs.
Chestnut Hill (1-8, 0-3) scored the first basket of the game and despite an answer from USciences for the first and only tie of the contest, the Griffins rattled off 10 in a row to take a double-digit lead just 5:56 into the action. The advantage reached as high as 15, 24-9, with 9:23 remaining and remained in double-digits until Crawford hit a jumper 18 seconds ahead of the half to make the score 32-24 heading into the locker room.
That began a stretch of six straight points for University of the Sciences to pull within four, 28-32, just 1:14 into the second, but Chestnut Hill came right back with nine in row to establish its largest lead of the half, 41-28, 2:18 later.
USciences got as close as three, 38-41, when Da-Silva grabbed an offensive rebound and made a layup at the 12:27 mark, but the Griffins once again answered with nine consecutive points over 1:47 to take the commanding 50-38 lead.
University of the Sciences takes next week off for finals before returning to action at Southern Connecticut State for a 3:30 p.m. tip on Tuesday, Dec. 19.