Old Westbury, N.Y. - The NYIT men's basketball team held a lead right from the start of an East Coast Conference contest against Daemen College Wednesday evening up until the the five minute mark of the second half. The Wildcats rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit to steal an 80-72 victory against the Bears who fall to 6-16 this season as the visitors win their sixth straight and stand at 16-6 overall.
Graduate student Jon Feiler paced a balanced NYIT attack with 14 points and 15 rebounds, while sophomore Walter King added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Kieran Hamilton drilled three three-pointers and finished with 13 points for the hosts. Off the bench, Leonard James was responsible for 13 points, as he connected on 6-of-7 shots from the field. For Daemen College, five players reached double-figures as Supreme Hannah led with a team-high 16 points. Two players also came off the bench to contribute 15 and 14 respectively.
NYIT connected on four of its first six shots and opened a 9-0 lead after Hamilton drilled a three-pointer following a steal by classmate Jeffrey Hayden. Daemen scored the next five points and eventually cut the lead to two, 11-9, following a layup four minutes into the game. The teams traded baskets for the next three minutes and NYIT was up 18-16 when a three-pointer by senior Henrik Davidsen sparked the hosts on a 17-6 run. A tip in by senior Leonard James capped the run and gave the Bears a 35-21 lead with 7:24 left in the half.
Neither team scored after the 1:48 mark in the first frame as the Bears managed to extend their lead to 13, but not before a ahalf-ending 9-2 run made it a asix-point game as both teams headed for their respective locker rooms.
The teams traded baskets over the first three minutes of the second half and the NYIT lead was 43-38 when the hosts ran off 11 unanswered points. Feiler scored six points during the run, and a triple by Hamilton capped the rally and gave the Bears a 54-38 lead with 13:57 left to play.
The Wildcats managed to cut their deficit to 11 points over the next four minutes, and then minimize it to six points, 56-50, after Hannah drilled a three-pointer and then canned a jumper following a turnover by the Bears. NYIT regained a double-digit lead after two free throws by Feiler and a layup by Leonard, but a three-pointer by Hannah started a 10-0 run by the Wildcats. Another triple by Hannah with 4:48 left capped the run and knotted the game at 62-62.
A NYIT turnover led to two free throws by Hamilton with 1:28 to play, before King cut the Daemen lead to two points following a jumper with 57 seconds left. Wilkes canned two free throws with 40 seconds left, and after NYIT came up empty on its next possession Wilkes buried two more from the charity stripe to make it 75-69 with 29 seconds left. Feiler made one-of-two free throws four seconds later, but Wilkes came up big again with two free throws to make it a three possession game with 24 seconds left. In all, the Wildcats went 11-for-12 from the charity stripe over the final 1:28 to secure the win.
Daemen shot 41.5-percent (27-65) from the field overall and was 7-of-17 from behind the arc. NYIT shot 42-percent (29-69) from the field overall, but was just 5-of-20 from behind the arc. The Bears attempted just 15 free throws in the game and made nine. The Bears finished with a 48-38 edge in total rebounds, but the hosts turned the ball over 16 times and Daemen converted those miscues into a 19-12 advantage in points off turnovers. The Wildcats also finished with a 38-19 edge in bench points.
NYIT men's basketball is back in action on Saturday, February 11 when they travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the Firebirds of the District of Columbia. Tip-off is slated for 3:00 p.m. as the second set of an ECC doubleheader, following the women's contest.
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