Franklin Pierce survives Philadelphia
Jean-Guillaume’s last-minute basket lifts Ravens to next round
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Top-seeded Franklin Pierce survived a scare from eighth-seeded Philadelphia in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, Junior guard Eric Jean-Guillaume put in a basket with under a minute remaining to lift the Ravens to a 59-58 win.
Franklin Pierce improved to 22-7 and advanced to the second round on Sunday. Philadelphia concluded its season with a 19-10 record.
The Rams gave Franklin Pierce all it could handle in the first-round matchup, including taking a 58-57 lead with 2:08 remaining when Temi Adebayo made 1-of-2 free throws to put his team on top.
Philadelphia's defensive effort was also strong on the night and the Rams held the Ravens to without a basket on their next two possessions as the clock wound down under one minute remaining in regulation.
But as Franklin Pierce had done all season, the Ravens used their defensive pressure to create offense. With the clock winding under 50 seconds left, Franklin Pierce forced Philadelphia guard Jim Connolly into the right baseline corner and trapped him there. Senior guard Nigel Van Oostrum forced Connolly to throw a high lob pass out to the top of the key, but Jean-Guillaume batted the ball away near the mid-court stripe. The junior guard and Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year, scooped up the loose ball and drove the final half of the court and laid in the go-ahead basket with just 42 seconds remaining.
The Ravens clamped down even more on the defensive end in the remaining seconds and Connolly's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was short, thus enabling the Ravens to advance to Sunday.
Franklin Pierce shot just 42 percent (21-of-50) from the field, but the Ravens held the Rams to just 35-percent shooting (19-of-54), including a 29-percent clip (5-of-17) from 3-point range. The Ravens also held a 43-31 rebounding advantage, including getting nine boards apiece from Jean-Guillaume and Van Oostrum. Both players also netted nine points each, including Van Oostrum going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Van Oostrum's perfect effort helped Franklin Pierce shoot a strong 41 percent (7-of-17) from 3-point range.
Sophomore forward Ellis Cooper paced Franklin Pierce with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. Senior center Adedamola Abu chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out late in the game. The Ravens assisted on 15 of their 21 field goals made, including Van Oostrum, who dished out a game-high eight assists.
Connolly led a trio of Rams who scored in double-figures as he pumped in a game-high 19 points. Nick Christian followed with 17 points and Adebayo logged a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Franklin Pierce came out of the gates strong by scoring 10 of the first 13 points, including getting a triple apiece from freshman forward Ryen Vilmont and Van Oostrum. Sophomore guard Andre Blackwood drained a trey minutes later to keep the Ravens lead at seven at 22-15.
The Rams, however, fought back over a three-minute span and scored 11 of the next 13 points to take a 26-24 lead with 7:58 left until halftime. Christian sparked the surge with a triple and Connolly laid in a bucket to cap it.
The teams continued to trade baskets over the remainder of the half before the Ravens were able to grab a 35-32 advantage at intermission. Franklin Pierce was able to regain the lead before halftime thanks in large part to its 14-8 advantage in points in the paint.
The second half featured the same back-and-forth action as the closing minutes of the first half with the lead changing hands six times in the first seven minutes.
Christian tossed in a basket with 8:38 remaining to lift the Rams to a 50-48 lead. He, along with Stephen Griffin, each converted a free throw moments later and Philadelphia held its largest lead of the game at 52-48 with 6:09 to go.
Franklin Pierce responded and got back-to-back layups from sophomore forward Adrianos Vourliotakis Perdikaris and Abu to knot the score at 52-52. Abu's layup also drew a foul from Nick Schlitzer on the play and the Raven senior was able to cap the 3-point play with a free throw to stake Franklin Pierce to a 53-52 lead.
Again, the teams traded baskets over the next several minutes before the frantic finish which saw Jean-Guillaume become the hero.