Franciscan University of Steubenville’s men’s basketball team hosted AMCC leader, the La Roche Red Hawks, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. in a close and exciting game, winning by a single point.
After the whistle blew in the first period, sophomore forward Travis Lien immediately stole the ball and attempted to dunk, but La Roche scored first, shooting a 3-pointer at 18 minutes remaining. The Barons scored soon after, bringing the score to 3-2, La Roche.
At nine minutes, after much back-and-forth, the Barons had netted 15 points and La Roche had 23. In the next three minutes senior guard John Noce shot a 3-pointer, and by four minutes the Barons were at 21 with La Roche at 35.
With 3.45 minutes left on the clock, junior guard Sean Hickey shot the Barons’ second 3-pointer of the match, bringing the score to 35-24, La Roche.
Senior center Matt Trent then shot a 3-pointer and followed it up a minute later with another 3-pointer, closing the gap in the score. With 20 seconds left in the first period, La Roche still led by nine points with a score of 43-34.
During halftime, baton twirlers gave the crowd a show that included lighting a baton on fire.
The Barons came back to court ready to close the gap, and at 16 minutes in the second half, Noce made a layup and then proceeded to steal the ball back and shoot a 3-pointer, bringing the score to 50-46. At 10 minutes, Hickey evened out the score with a layup, making it 56-56.
The teams traded throws until two minutes were left and the score was even again at 66-66. At 1.38 minutes, La Roche shot two free throws, and seconds later junior forward Drazen Frankovitch had a layup and shot a free throw. At 40 seconds, the Barons stole the ball from La Roche, making the score 69-68, Barons.
With 26 seconds left on the clock, La Roche landed both a fastbreak and a free throw, bringing the score to 71-69, La Roche.
Despite the pressure, Hickey scored a 3-pointer in the last 10 seconds of the game, winning the game 71-72, and Franciscan students flooded the court cheering.
“I’m really, really proud of our guys’ resolve,” said head coach Joe Wallace. “We got down early against La Roche, who’s won 28 straight conference games. To be able to just keep focus, to keep chipping away, I thought our toughness was there. Our defense finally turned on after we made a couple adjustments.”
“The players made plays,” said Wallace. “We got some good ones that are starting to get healthy. … It’s going to be a fun group to watch for the rest of the year.”
The Baron basketball team looks forward to its next home game on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. against Pitt.-Greensburg.