SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Le Moyne Athletics) –
Senior guard Nino Hernandez (Gardner, Mass./The Winchendon School/Bryant) led three Dolphins in double figures to lead the Le Moyne College men’s basketball team to an 84-77 victory over defending East Region champion Daemen College on Monday night at Ted Grant Court.
“Great team effort tonight, I thought,” said head coach Nate Champion ’14. “That’s a really good team in Daemen, very experienced as well and they’re going to be a team that’s one of the best teams in the region moving forward, definitely one of the best teams in their conference, so for us to get that win on our home court was a great achievement for us, but I thought it was a complete team effort.
We out-rebounded them, that is the first time they’ve been out-rebounded all year and it was really kudos to Isaiah (Elmore), X (Xavier Wilson) and Nick (Johnson) just battling down low, making it difficult for them, and then Christian (Davis), Nino and those guys coming and cleaning up the mess for us, so I thought it was a very good team effort and hopefully we can build on that going forward.”
Hernandez finished the game with 17 points, 11 of which came in the first half, to go along with six rebounds and three steals. Redshirt freshmen guards Christian Davis (Denver, Colo./Mullen/New Hampton School) and Kevin Constant (Lawrence, Mass./Central Catholic/Tilton School) each tallied 15 points, while Davis pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.
“It comes with a lot,” said Hernandez on what it means to be a senior leader. “Sometimes I put a little too much pressure [on myself] and I don’t have fun, but I’m starting to figure out a balance and just living and having fun. I love the guys, I love being in this position that I’m in, and we have a great group of guys, a close-knit family, and we just love to hoop, so it makes everything easy.”
Andrew Sischo, a multiple time All-America selection during his time with the Wildcats, led Daemen with a double-double of 28 points and 18 rebounds, including 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Sean Fasoyiro registered 16 points, including 14 in the first half, seven rebounds and four steals. Andrew Mason posted 10 points, including seven in the second half.
“Hats off to Sischo, he’s a great player, he’s going to get his, but it’s how he’s going to get his,” added Hernandez. “Coach mentioned that he’s (Sischo) either going to get it on 20 shots or he’s going to get it on 10 shots…I feel like we made each shot tough and Isaiah did a great job, he’s a young cat that really loves to go out there and take on challenges. X and Nick did a great job stepping up and I just feel like we all did it together and came together and were able to pull off this W.”
Daemen scored the first eight points of the game to force a Le Moyne timeout and 11 of the initial 13. Fasoyiro started the scoring with a lay-up and then Ryan Salzberg and Mason buried three-pointers to force the Le Moyne timeout. After Le Moyne got on the scoreboard, Kyle Harris nailed a three-pointer.
Le Moyne countered with nine of the next 10 points to get within one. Davis made a three-pointer, Constant made a lay-up, sophomore guard Jeremiah Washington (Chicago, Ill./Bogan/Ferris State) knocked down a jumper and then Hernandez made two foul shots.
After Sischo recorded a conventional three-point play to put the Wildcats back up by four, senior guard Payton Hudson () and Davis drained three-pointers in transition to give the Dolphins the lead.
Following back-and-forth action, which led to the Dolphins taking a 23-20 lead on a jumper by Constant, the Wildcats responded with a 15-5 run to go up by seven points with 5:38 left in the half. Fasoyiro had a pair of three-point plays in the streak, Sischo scored four points, Juston Johnson hit a three-pointer and Zecaree Veiga capped the spurt with a jumper.
After seven points from each team over the next 2:41, the Dolphins closed out the half with a 9-4 run to get within 46-44 at halftime. Redshirt freshman guard Jack Poirier (Scituate, Mass./Scituate) had a lay-up off a steal by Hernandez to start the run and Constant followed with a steal and a basket. After a lay-up by Hernandez between four Daemen free throws, freshman guard Zy’Ever Wingfield (Richmond, Va./Henrico/Fork Union Military Academy) made a foul shot and a jumper on the final two possessions to end the half’s scoring.
The second half featured six ties over the opening six and one-half minutes and neither team led by more than two points in the span.
After Sischo gave the Wildcats the lead for the final time at 58-56 with a jumper with 12:04 left, the Dolphins scored seven straight points. Constant put the Dolphins in front with a three-pointer in transition and then Davis had a jumper in the paint and a dunk off a steal for a 63-58 advantage.
Daemen responded with five points in 42 seconds to tie the score for the eighth and final time in the game.
The Dolphins scored the next four points and 15 of the ensuing 19 to take control of the game. Senior forward Nicholas Johnson (Silver Spring, Md./John F. Kennedy/Frostburg St./Montgomery College) put Le Moyne up for good with a lay-up and made another 47 seconds later. Following a Veiga jumper, Poirier made a jumper, Wingfield converted two foul shots and Davis hit a jumper in transition for an eight-point lead. After a dunk by Veiga, redshirt freshman forward Isaiah Elmore (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) made a lay-up, Davis converted a free throw off a technical on the Daemen bench and then Poirier gave the Dolphins the largest lead of the game at 78-67 with a jumper with 4:01 to play.
Mason and Harris hit three-pointers 1:59 apart to get the Wildcats within five, but that’s as close as they would get the remainder of the game. Hernandez and Sischo traded baskets before Washington ended the game’s scoring with two free throws with seven seconds left.
Le Moyne (5-3) is back in action on Thursday, hosting third-ranked Mercyhurst University at 6:00 p.m.