LORETTO (CAMBRIA COUNTY) – Earl Brown (Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Charter) racked up 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds and Saint Francis made 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute to hold off Sacred Heart for a 68-66 win in front of a national television audience Saturday.
The gutsy victory – the first for the Frankies at DeGol Arena this season – ended a frustrating three-game string of single-digit setbacks and served as an example of SFU's ongoing evolution on offense.
After shooting at a meager 38.3 percent clip over the season's first 15 games, Saint Francis has surpassed 50 percent from floor in three of its past four games after its 51.1 percent performance against the Pioneers. The Red Flash also matched its season-high with four players scoring in double figures.
"For the better part of the last two weeks we have played some of the best teams in the Northeast Conference," said Flash coach Rob Krimmel. "We've talked to our guys about getting better everyday and sometimes that's hard when things aren't going your way, but these guys have stuck with it."
In addition to Brown, Ben Millaud-Meunier (Montreal, Quebec/Vanier) scored 14 followed by Ronnie Drinnon (Jamestown, Ohio/Greenview) and Dominique Major (Woodbridge, Va./Forest Park) with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
After Phil Gaetano's 3-pointer brought Sacred Heart within 61-60, Brown hit two free throws with 29 seconds left.
Millaud-Meunier made 5 of 6 free throws over the last 17 seconds, missing his last attempt intentionally with 0.9 seconds left to keep Sacred Heart from a good look at a last-second shot.
The Pioneers had come within 67-66 on Steve Glowiak's late 3-pointer. With the clock at 0.9 after the make, Millaud-Meunier went to the line on a dead-ball foul.
Saint Francis (4-15; 2-4 NEC) found itself in a hole early in first half and by the eight-minute mark faced a 27-17 deficit – its largest of the contest. Keyed by five points from Malik Harmon (Queens, N.Y./Christ the King), the Red Flash responded with a 15-4 run to take its first lead of the game.
The Flash managed a 34-33 edge at the intermission and neither team led by more than five points for the duration.
Chris Evans led the Pioneers (4-17; 1-5) with 18 points. De'von Barnett added 14 and Mostafa Abdel Latif had 13.
"We had a great effort and balance offensively and are looking to build on that," said Krimmel. "We are at our best when we can get out and run. That is the challenge for this team. Now we have to build on that success by stringing multiple wins together."
Saint Francis welcomes Central Connecticut on Thursday for a 7 p.m. contest. The Frankies defeated the Blue Devils, 75-67, in New Britain, Conn. On Jan. 11.
--SFU Athletic Communications
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