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Bryant beaten by Saint Francis, 55-54

Thursday, March 06, 2014

 

All good things do come to an end, but this was still a bit unexpected.

Down by 11 points with 9:21 to play, the sixth-seeded Saint Francis Red Flash figured out a way to ignore the frenzied crowd at the Chace Athletic Center, and push past the Bryant Bulldogs Wednesday night in Smithfield.

They did both, by getting the ball in Ronnie Drinnon's hands.  Drinnon led Saint Francis with a career high 20 points and a dominating 18 rebounds, and his three-point play helped the Red Flash come from behind with just over three minutes to play and upset third-seeded Bryant 55-54.  Saint Francis advances in the NEC Tournament to next face top-seeded Robert Morris in the semifinals, while the Bulldogs' season ends at 18-14.

Trailing by three, 28-25 at the half, Bryant opened up the second half on a 7-0 run to grab a quick lead on Saint Francis, and after five straight Red Flash points, junior guard Dyami Starks (19 points) scored seven unanswered of his own, giving the Bulldogs' their largest advantage of the game at 49-38 with 9:21 to play.

A Drinnon three-point play pulled SFU within two, 50-48, at the final media timeout, and then a Dominique Major trey gave the Red Flash the advantage once again at 51-50.  Drinnon hit a layup with 43 seconds left for a 53-52 lead, was fouled rebounding his own missed free throw and sank both for a 55-52 margin. St. Francis outrebounded Bryant for the game, 34-25.

Saint Francis (10-20) hasn't been in the playoffs since the 2010-11 season but managed to scrap past the Bulldogs in a closely fought contest that saw five ties and five lead changes -- three in that final 3:37.  First team all-NEC forward Alex Francis saw his illustrious career come to a close with just seven points on the night, but Francis wraps up his time in Smithfield as the only player in NEC history to rank in the top five in both points (2,085) and rebounds (990).

 

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