The sub-zero temperatures outside the Finnegan Fieldhouse were forgotten Wednesday evening as the Franciscan University of Steubenville men’s basketball team turned up the heat with an exciting 63-53 victory over Mount Aloysius College on Jan. 30 at 8 p.m.
Franciscan’s Barons took command out of the gate with successful 3-pointers by junior forward Joe Schriner and junior guard Sean Hickey in the first two minutes of play, giving the Barons a 6-0 lead over the Mounties. Mountie scoring attempts were stifled by Baron defense until the opposition managed to sink a free throw, finally putting the Mounties on the board.
Franciscan’s defense ruled the court for most of the first half. Tight, man-to-man coverage by the Barons and an aggressive full court press kept the Mounties on their heels and unable to break out of single digits until a clean jumper from Mount Aloysius at just above the four-minute mark brought the Mounties to 10 on the board. The Mounties seemed to find new life after this, with the team scoring another 10 points in the last two minutes of the half, though they still trailed the Barons 34-20 going into halftime.
The Mounties came out hot in the second half, scoring eight unanswered points in the first three minutes of the half. The team’s bigs took control, scoring two baskets apiece to make it a six-point game.
A Mountie foul gave the Barons their first successful scoring opportunity, with freshman forward Travis Lien taking the ball in for a layup. Franciscan continued to stretch its lead, trading baskets here and there but keeping a strong advantage. A trio of 3-pointers by Hickey, who matched his season high of threes with six on the game, and a series of baskets by Trent pulled Franciscan ahead by more than 20 points.
The Mounties fought back with a series of baskets in the last five minutes, but it wasn’t enough to bridge the gap the Barons had forged. Free throws by freshman guard Justin Mack, junior forward Jonathan Sigler and sophomore center Joe Verneau capped off the Barons’ point total, ending the night 63-53 Barons.
Head coach Joe Wallace said that the Barons were “a little nervous” to try out their full court press for the first time but that it helped them disrupt Mount Aloysius and “set the tempo” for the game. “From each possession we were making them earn every inch of the court,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s how we set the tone and how we got the win.”
The Barons will come back to Kuzma Court on Wednesday, Feb. 6, to take on La Roche College for an 8 p.m. tipoff.