SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Junior SaBastian Townes (Chesapeake, Va.) scored 28 points and helped the Bryant University men's basketball team close the game on a 9-0 run for a 76-66 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn in Thursday's Northeast Conference opener at the Chace Athletic Center.
Junior Juan Cardenas (Medellin, Colombia) added career-highs of 12 points and eight rebounds as the Bulldogs opened NEC play with a victory for the first time since 2015-16. The Black & Gold made their final 14 free throw attempts of the contest.
Bryant 76, St. Francis Brooklyn 66
Records: Bryant (4-8, 1-0), St. Francis Brooklyn (8-6, 0-1)
Location: Chace Athletic Center (Smithfield, R.I.)
COACH GRASSO'S COMMENTS
"We didn't prepare a ton for Dartmouth and Iowa, per se. We were just worried about getting ourselves better over the 20 days [leading to NEC play.] In turn, we played well against Dartmouth and played very well and had a chance to beat Iowa. It carried over to today.
"We've gotten a lot tougher and a lot grittier. I had to change some things in my playing style – I was still trying to learn this team for a while, and it took me a while to figure some things out. The biggest thing is that they continue to practice hard, they compete every day, and they're starting to understand what it takes to win."
- Bryant used a 17-5 run to turn a 13-12 deficit into a 29-18 advantage with 6:33 remaining in the first half.
- With the Bulldogs trailing 56-54, the Bulldogs went on a 7-2 run with all seven points from Townes to take a 61-58 lead. Bryant would not trail again in the contest.
- Bryant closed the game on a 9-0 run with all nine points coming at the line.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Bulldogs scored the first five points of the game on a three-point play from Townes and a layup by junior Adam Grant (Franklin, Va.).
- Bryant led 14-13 on a Townes layup with 13:46 to play. Townes missed the free throw, but Cardenas was there for the offensive rebound, eventually finding Grant for a three-pointer.
- The Bulldogs would push the lead to 11 at 31-20 on a pair of Cardenas free throws with 5:08 to play in the half.
- The Terriers would grab the final six points of the half to head into the locker room at 37-34 Bryant.
- St. Francis would continue the run into the second half with the first six points after the break to take a 40-37 advantage.
- The teams traded the lead back and forth until a pair of Townes free throws put Bryant ahead 59-58 with 6:47 to go. Townes added two more on a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead three.
- St. Francis tied the game at 65 with 2:55 to go before Townes responded with a drive to the basket to regain the lead.
- Townes followed by knocking down all three free throws on a shooting foul to put the Bulldogs ahead 70-66 with 1:44 to play.
- Bryant closed out the victory with four free throws from redshirt-senior Byron Hawkins (Fort Washington, Md.) and two from freshman Joe Kasperzyk (New Haven, Conn.).
- Townes scored 28 points – six shy of his career-high – on 7-of-14 shooting, 1-for-1 from three and 13-for-16 from the free throw line.
- Cardenas made both of his field goals and was 8-of-9 from the line to go along with eight rebounds and two blocks.
- Hawkins added 13 points and Kasperzyk chipped in 10.
- Bryant shot a season-best 50 percent from the floor – the Bulldogs' best since a 51.9 shooting percentage Feb. 10, 2018 vs. Mount St. Mary's.
- The Bulldogs committed just 10 turnovers, marking the fifth time this season Bryant has limited itself no more than 10.
- Bryant's 32 made free throws ranked second in a single game in the Bulldogs' Division I era, as did Townes' 13 makes and 16 attempts.
- Cardenas' 17 blocks on the year are tied for 10th in a single season in Bryant's Division I era.
- Bryant has held its opponents to 68.3 points per game over its last three contests.
- The Bulldogs surpassed their 2017-18 win total with Thursday's victory.
- Townes' performance was his seventh in his career of 20 or more points and third consecutive against mid-major opponents.
- Kasperzyk is averaging 15.0 points per game in four contests off the bench while shooting 52.8 percent.
- Bryant improves to 7-11 all-time against St. Francis Brooklyn and 7-3 at the Chace Athletic Center.
Bryant closes out the first weekend of NEC play Saturday at 4 p.m. when the Bulldogs host LIU Brooklyn at the Chace Athletic Center.
Season and single-game tickets for home games at the Chace Athletic Center are available by clicking HERE or calling (401) 319-TIXX.