Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – The Elms College men's basketball team fell to RPI, 77-71, in the final day of action at the 2016 Cardinal Classic, hosted by Plattsburgh State, at Memorial Hall Saturday afternoon. The Blazers move to 0-3 on the season, while RPI improves to 2-0 overall.
The Blazers held an early lead with a jumper from senior Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.) putting Elms up 8-2 at the 16:50 mark. Elms continued to race ahead of the Engineers, using three-pointers from senior Trifon Bish (St. Catherine, Jamaica) and freshmen DeAngelo Cousar (Bowie, Md.) and Diomanni Fernandez (Tamarac, Fla.) to develop a 23-10 lead with 9:39 left in the first. Elms senior Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.) knocked down seven straight points to extend the Blazers advantage to 31-16 at the 3:25 mark. The Engineers roared back over the final minutes of the half, orchestrating a 14-5 run, and featuring three straight three-pointers to close the gap to 36-30 at the break.
The Blazers continued to hold an edge over the Engineers early in the second half on back-to-back drives from Bish. RPI sophomore Tom Horvat (Cranston, R.I.) pulled the Engineers back with eight straight points to cut into the deficit, followed by a layup from Horvat at the 14:15 mark to give RPI a 45-44 lead. Horvat added another pair of three-pointers to push the Engineers lead to 53-47, but Elms evened the score at 54-54 on buckets from Smith and Cousar. The Engineers kept the Blazers at bay behind free throws from Horvat, followed by a three-pointer from senior Jonathan Luster (Essex, Conn.) to build a 65-59 lead for RPI at the 4:42 mark. A pair of buckets from Smith put the Blazers within a possession, 65-63, with 3:41 to play. The Engineers pulled away down the stretch, connecting on seven of eight attempts, to hold onto the 77-71 victory.
Smith paced the Blazers offense, netting a team-high 26 points with six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Cousar logged his first career double-double, registering a career-high 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Bish added 14 points and four rebounds, while sophomore Kyle Wider (New Brunswick, N.J.) added six points off the bench.
Horvat led all scorers with a game-high 31 points. Senior Brian Hatcher (Danbury, Conn.) recorded a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Luster chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Sebuabe Dzobo (Glendale, Ariz.) contributed a game-high 12 rebounds and eight points off the bench.
The Engineers controlled the rebounding category, 47-33, during the contest. The Blazers connected on 47.6 (30-of-63) from the field, including 32.3% (10-of-31) from three-point range, and 25% (1-of-4) from the free throw line. RPI shot 36.8% (25-of-68) from the floor, 34.3% (12-of-35) from three-point range, and 78.9% (15-of-19) from the foul line.
The Blazers will be back in action with a home tilt against Trinity (Conn.) at Picknelly Arena Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. RPI will travel to Sage College Tuesday night for an 8:00 p.m. tip-off.