RINDGE, N.H. – Franklin Pierce advanced to the Northeast-10 Conference Championship semifinal round with an 85-80 win against Southern Connecticut State in the quarterfinals on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Ravens improved to 20-7, while the fifth-seeded Owls fell to 17-10.
Senior guard Eric Jean-Guillaume and junior forward Ellis Cooper each pumped in a team-high 19 points.
Cooper also logged a double-double as he ripped down 10 rebounds. Sophomore forward Ryen Vilmont also recorded a double-double for the Ravens with 16 points and 11 boards and junior forward Ant Lessane came off the bench to add 10 points in the win.
Southern Connecticut also had four players score in double-digits, led by Greg Langston’s game-high 31 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field, including an impressive 6 of 8 effort from three-point range. Trevon Hamlet followed with a double-double of 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Tylon Smith and Luke Houston added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Franklin Pierce held a double-digit lead for a majority of the second half, but quickly saw its lead evaporate with a rally by the Owls. Southern Connecticut mounted a 14-3 run midway through the stanza to knot the score at 62, and then reeled off eight consecutive points minutes later to take a 72-67 lead with 7:18 remaining. Langston buried a three to kick start the run, while Houston capped it with five points on a 3-pointer and layup.
Franklin Pierce didn’t fold and a Vilmont three, followed by a Cooper layup, put the Ravens back up at 73-72. Smith answered with a layup at the other end of the court, but Vilmont and Cooper teamed up once again as each hit a pair of foul shots on back-to-back possessions to make it 77-74.
Jean-Guillaume then stepped up for the Ravens and tossed in a layup and converted a pair of foul shots. Vilmont made another trip to the free throw line and when he sank both opportunities the Ravens held an 82-76 lead with just 1:18 left, which sealed the post-season win.
Franklin Pierce shot a strong 51 percent (28 of 55) from the floor for the game.
The game went back and forth with eight lead changes during the opening nine minutes, but Franklin Pierce finally was able to gain some traction with a 7-0 run, keyed by a 3-pointer from junior guard Curtis Christian to take a 31-24 lead with 6:55 to go until halftime.
Jean-Guillaume had a steal and coast-to-coast dunk at the buzzer to cap a wild first half as the Ravens held a narrow 46-43 lead at the intermission. The Ravens scored the opening seven points of the second half to open up a 10-point advantage, and their lead hovered around that mark for the next several minutes before the Owls made their run to get back in it.