The first December basketball games took place on Saturday, and there was no shortage of drama and intrigue. We begin the big recap with an upset of sorts in Albany:


Sekou Sylla racked up 24 points (7-11 FG) and 11 rebounds and Saint Rose downed New Haven at Nolan Gym, handing its guests their first loss of the season while picking up their first NE10 win in five tries. A 30-12 second-half run stretched a 40-35 lead to 70-47 and the Golden Knights were in business, gathering 17 assists to a mere two turnovers (UNH was 7/8 by contrast) and outscoring the Chargers 15-0 off of miscues. Adam Anderson (15 points), Matt Cerutti (14 points, seven rebounds) and Shane Herrity (14 points, six boards, four assists) offered solid support for the winners, who fared better at the foul line (17-24 to 5-13). Elijah Bailey led the charge for New Haven with 19 points (4-6 from deep) and six rebounds, followed by Kessly Felizor (13 points, 6-8 FG, nine rebounds) and Darius Roundtree (10 points, 3-5 from 3).


For the first time in exactly eight years, Pace defeated Le Moyne in Syracuse, winning a defensive grudge-match despite no field goals over the last 6:36. Brandon Jacobs recorded 17 points to front the Setters’ attack as they jumped out to a 17-6 lead and then rode a 9-0 wave in the second stanza to flip a 43-42 deficit into a 51-43 advantage with 8:13 to play. The Dolphins came as close as 54-53 after two Souleymane Gueye free throws with 48 seconds left, and had a chance to steal the win on the last possession, but Pace’s “D” held, forcing a Fins player to call a timeout the team did not have with 4.8 seconds left. Jacobs converted both technical foul shots, and Kobi Nwandu’s tying trey attempt from the left corner sailed long as the buzzer sounded, giving Pace its first five-game win streak since February of 2008. Peyton Wejnert (13 points), Austin Gilbertson (11 points, seven rebounds) and Greg Poleon (10, 12) made impacts for the Setters, while C.J. Asuncion-Byrd (12 bench points, 3-4 from long range), Nwandu (11) and Tom Brown (11) reached double figures for Le Moyne. Both teams struggled from the floor overall (PU 37%, LC 32%) and from beyond the arc (PU 3-15, LC 7-31).


District of Columbia has also rattled off five straight after rallying to bump off Chestnut Hill at Sorgenti Arena. The Firebirds were staring at a 56-50 shortfall with 12-and-a-half minutes remaining before embarking on a 20-6 spree, capped by a Zachary Olukanni lay-up, that made it 70-62 with 7:48 to go. The Griffins – who saw Billy Miller VI match his personal best of 19 points (4-8 from afar) – scored the next four to halve the deficit, but a 10-2 spurt, culminating in two free throws by Kevin Cox (15 points, eight rebounds off the bench), put the game out of reach at 80-68 with 33 seconds on the clock. Quadire Truesdale was high man for UDC with 17 points and seven assists. He was flanked by Juanye Colon (15 points in a reserve role) and Olukanni (12 points, four helpers off the bench). Ed McWade and Trevonn Pitts (6-7 FG, 2-2 from 3) each netted 14 for the Griffs, who were a little better in the shooting (46%-43%) and rebounding (39-38) departments while also doing more damage in the paint (36-20). The Firebirds countered with more prolific 3-point activity (13-32 to 7-18) and free-throw shooting (12-14 to 9-19). UDC last strung five straight wins together in December of 2015.


Perhaps the most entertaining game of the weekend came along the Connecticut coast as Bridgeport turned aside Bloomfield in another Hubbell Gym shootout. The Purple Knights trailed 58-41 shortly before halftime and were still down 74-62 over eight minutes into the second period before orchestrating a 20-4 run, edging in front 82-78 after a lay-up from Eric Rankin (22 points, eight rebounds) with 8:22 to play. The Bears – who received 25 points (10-10 FT), five assists and four steals from Keith Washington – nosed back in front, 88-86, on the senior guard’s two foul shots at the 5:45 stage, but that would be their last hurrah as Jayden Iturmendi (11 points off the bench, 3-4 FG) converted a go-ahead “And-1” 35 seconds later that sparked a 22-9, game-clinching upswing. Six Bridgeport players boasted twin figures, including Hashem Abbas (19 points, 8-12 FG, seven rebounds) and Vakas Iqbal (15 points in 17 bench minutes). Kavione Green (22 points, seven rebounds) and Matt Lajeunesse (13, 13) made their presences felt in defeat for Bloomfield, which shot better (54%-51%) but committed 28 turnovers, getting outscored 41-23 off of mistakes. The Purple Knights – whose first six games have come exclusively vs. CACC teams – converted a brilliant 27-of-29 free throws in the second half in reaching the century mark for a fourth time in six games.


Former Nyack player Valiant Jones earned coaching win #1 at his alma mater as his charges downed LIU Post at Bowman Gym to snap a six-game slide. Gemaal Davis registered 19 points (7-11 FG) off the bench to pace the Warriors, who saw 52 of their 83 points scored by reserves, including 11 apiece from Shawn Witherspoon and Jordan Rodriguez. Joel Bailey chimed in with 15 points (4-5 FG) for the victors, who bolted out to a 35-15 lead and never allowed their guests to come closer than 13 in the second half. Alonzo Ortiz-Traylor erupted for a career-high 34 points and 11 rebounds for the dismantled Pioneers, who were outshot (48%-34%) and outrebounded (48-29) in falling for a fifth straight time.


Tim Guers came alive with 30 points (11-17 FG, 5-6 from long distance) and nine assists as all five starters reached double figures for #4 St. Anselm in its win vs. Merrimack in Manchester. Cody Ball rebounded from a rare scoreless outing to compile 15 points (3-5 from 3), nine rebounds and seven assists for the Hawks, who maintained between an eight- and 17-point upper hand the entirety of the second half. Chris Paul (eight rebounds) and Gustav Suhr-Jessen (11) each tossed in 15 points apiece for St. A’s, which shot a crisp 56% and a scorching 12-of-19 from beyond the arc in winning its sixth straight. Juvaris Hayes stuffed the stat sheet once again with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Warriors, who also saw Khalief Crawford (16 points), Ryan Boulter (15) and Idris Joyner (13 points, 4-5 FG, nine rebounds) reach double digits in defeat.


Just down the road in Waltham, Chris Hudson led five in double figures with 20 points (8-13 FG, 2-2 from deep) and 10 rebounds, powering the East’s only other undefeated team – #24 Bentley – past St. Michael’s for its region-best seventh win. The Falcons led from pillar to post in this one, using a 16-2 tear in expanding a modest 15-13 lead to 31-15 en route to a 51-28 halftime bulge. The margin hovered between 21 and 32 over the final 20 minutes thanks mostly to the efforts of Colton Lawrence (17 points, 8-11 FG), Jordan Mello-Klein (13 points, seven rebounds, six assists), Seth Stankiewicz (12 points) and Ryan Richmond (10 points, six dishes). Derek Cheatom garnered 14 points and Jordan Guzman 13 for the Purple Knights, who were outshot (52%-35%) and out-assisted (18-9).


There were three notable comebacks on Saturday. At Manuel Rivero Hall, Holy Family used a 24-5 blitz over the last 8:07 to erase a 70-57 deficit and capture a six-point win vs. Lincoln (PA). Patrick Robinson chalked up the go-ahead basket with 1:34 left and the Tigers converted just enough foul shots (4-6) over the final 24 seconds to slam the door in a game that saw six lead changes and 12 ties. Vincenzo Dalessandro delivered a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds for the winners, whose freshmen trio of Kharon Randolph (20 points, 11-12 FT, six rebounds), Robinson (16 points, five assists) and Dymir Montague (14, 4) flexed their muscles. Deaquan Williams posted 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Lions.


In Old Westbury, Marcus Johnson produced successive hoops to spark a 36-14 second-half charge that carried Post past New York Institute of Technology and snapped a five-game skid (the last two in OT). The Eagles stumbled out of the gate, trailing 27-8 at the midway mark of the first half before outscoring their hosts 29-11 the rest of the period to trail by only one (38-37) at the break. They were down 41-39 nearly four minutes into the final frame when the aforementioned power run put Post in the catbird seat at 75-55 with 3:08 remaining – an overall swing of 39 points (67-38). Tyshon Rogers sported 23 points and five steals for the winners, while Johnson contributed 15 points. Zahir Porter (16 points) and Collins Onyeike (13 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots) were the top options for the Bears, who committed a whopping 29 turnovers (PU had 13) and were outworked at the stripe (22-32 to 10-20) in falling for a seventh straight time.


Demetre Roberts notched a personal-best 19 points (3-5 from 3) and five steals, while Louis Griffith also cashed in a career-high 17 in his first collegiate start, including the go-ahead trifecta with 3:44 on the clock as #18 St. Thomas Aquinas rallied past University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The Spartans – who were outscored 19-8 to open the second half and trailed 50-41 – were still behind 55-49 inside of the last seven minutes before initiating a 17-4 spell that put them in front for good at 66-59 with 1:13 left. The Devils – who were spearheaded by Tanner Kerr’s career-best 17 points (7-8 FG) and nine rebounds – came no closer than pour points down the stretch as STAC knocked down six of eight at the line over the last 42 seconds to close it out. Sekou Cisse generated 11 points, nine boards and four assists off the bench for Aquinas, while Brandon Starr (16 points off the bench) and Paddy Casey (12 points, six assists) were active for Sciences. The Devils – who have lost four straight – were the better shooters (50%-42%) and rebounders (38-30) but turned it over nearly twice as often (23-12), leading to a fatal 25-14 scoring disparity.


The only team with a longer active dry spell is Queens, which lost its eighth straight and second in as many days – another tough one vs. Caldwell at the Newman Center. A tight contest throughout, as evidenced by 14 lead changes and no more than a seven-point separation all afternoon, the Cougars found themselves trailing 44-38 with just over 12 minutes to go before a 12-2 run flipped the script. Ahmad Harrison (seven points) converted a traditional 3-point play to put the hosts ahead to stay, but the Knights inched within 55-54 on a Keenan Gorski triple (his only points in a reserve role) with 1:42 to play. Caldwell rattled off the next six points, however, to secure the spoils. Vaughn Covington hit for 22 points (3-4 from long range, 9-9 FT) and Ruud Lutterman collected 16 points with eight rebounds for the Cougars, who won despite being outshot (52%-43%), outrebounded (27-24), out-assisted (13-9) and outclassed from beyond the arc (11-22 to 3-9). They made up for those discrepancies at the foul line (18-21 to 2-4) and by outscoring Queens 29-5 off turnovers (21-8 TO difference). Elijah Bovell and Dwayne Henry, Jr. each dropped a baker’s dozen for the Knights… the latter shooting 3-for-4 from deep.


It was Lions vs. Lions in Lakewood as Molloy beat Georgian Court in the two programs’ first-ever meeting. Nick Corbett fired off 24 points and Curtis Jenkins 18 for the victors, who trailed only once (13-11) before a Corbett triple launched a 20-4 run that put his team ahead 31-17. The hosts – who received 25 points (9-11 FT) from Caleb Bowser – chipped away and eventually equalized at 56-56 on Bowser free throws with 11:27 remaining. However, Mike Torre (17 points, 10 rebounds) answered with two of his own 14 seconds later, instigating a key 11-2 spurt that put Molloy in front for keeps at 67-58 with 8:32 to go; the gap barely budging between seven and 12 over the last 5:21. Josh Dennis added 14 points (5-6 FG), six assists and four steals for the visitors, while Sean Barksdale (17 points, 4-8 from 3, nine boards in his season debut) and Matt Ringel (12, 9 off the pine) provided quality depth in defeat for Georgian Court.


Thirteen second-half lead changes distinguished Stonehill’s tough road victory over Franklin Pierce at the FPU Field House. Will Moreton led five in double figures with 22 points (all after intermission) and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Twitty drove home 15 of his 20 (4-5 from 3) in the opening period to propel the Skyhawks, who last trailed 71-69 at the three-minute mark. That's when Michael Boen (10 points, seven rebounds in his first start in two seasons) sank the tying free throws and Moreton then drained the go-ahead 3-ball with 2:13 on the clock, fueling an 8-0 flurry that saved the day for Stonehill, as did four straight foul shots over the final seven seconds as Pierce was never able to make it a one-possession game. Jeremy Arthur led a balanced scoresheet with a personal-best 17 points (5-8 from downtown Rindge) off the bench for the Ravens, who led 23-10 at the outset and 34-27 at the half. Doyin Fadojutimi (16 points), Falu Seck (15) and Jameson Pierrelus (12 points, 2-2 from long range, 11 boards off the bench) also paid dividends in a losing effort. Owen Chose (15 points) and Joel Berroa (12 points, seven rebounds) both played well in reserve roles for Stonehill, which was the more accurate shooting team (49%-38%) and made more hay at the line (20-28 to 8-9), offsetting shortfalls in the rebounding (39-36) and assist (18-7) columns.


Isaiah McLeod paced five in double digits with 26 points (11-18 FG) and 10 rebounds, while Ulyen Coleman turned in an 18-point, four-assist performance in Southern Connecticut’s victory over Adelphi in New Haven. The Owls – who also welcomed back Joey Wallace (10 second-half bench points in his season debut) – trailed 24-15 before righting the ship for a 43-40 halftime advantage. But it wasn’t until a 14-0 second-half surge that they were able to attain some distance at 72-56 with 7:41 to play; the margin bouncing between 14 and 19 the balance of the ballgame. Kealan Ives (15 points, four assists) and Luke Beesley (10 points, 5-6 FG, 12 boards) also made impacts for Southern, which made 55% of its shots and outscored the Panthers 25-9 off turnovers. Nick Cambio did most of the heavy lifting for Adelphi with 20 points (8-10 FG) and 11 rebounds, while Jack Laffey finished with 16 points (4-7 from distance).


Daquaise Andrews accumulated 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while fellow senior Charlie Russo procured 15 points (4-7 from afar) as Southern New Hampshire had little problem with Assumption at Laska Gym. The Penmen never trailed in building leads of 24-8 and 41-16 shortly before halftime. The Greyhounds – who were led by Damien Rance’s 11 points and Cal Connolly’s 10 – opened the second half with 12 straight, whittling their deficit down to 43-31 on a Connolly lay-in. It was 49-38 midway through the period when an Andrews lay-up touched off an 11-2 uprising that put the game on ice at 60-40 with 6:09 left. SNHU was the superior shooting team (47%-34%) and did a better job at the foul line (11-16 to 2-7).


Just down the Mass Pike in Springfield, Logan Santiago cranked out 17 points off the bench and Trevaun Hyatt chipped in with 13 as American International cruised past first-time foe Roberts Wesleyan, never trailing in establishing leads of 30-12, 49-21 and 70-37 as the gap never got lower than 19 after the break. Peyton McLaurin tabulated 19 points and six rebounds for the Redhawks, who also received 12 points from Armon Nasseri. The Yellow Jackets were much more formidable from beyond the arc (11-33 to 1-20) and on the glass (50-31), including a 17-6 advantage on the offensive end. Roberts’ only noteworthy statistical advantage came at the free-throw line (16-20 to 9-18), though it wasn’t enought to factor in the outcome.