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Men's Basketball Falls To St. Francis Brooklyn 82-75 Despite Four Players Scoring In Double Figures


(Cooper, Wagner)

Brooklyn Heights, NY – The Wagner men's basketball team held a 61-58 lead over St. Francis Brooklyn with 5:44 left to go in the contest before the Terriers outscored the Seahawks 24-14 down the stretch to earn an 82-75 come-from-behind win on Sunday afternoon at the Pope Physical Education Center.
With the loss, the Seahawks fall to 8-5 overall and 1-1 in Northeast Conference (NEC) action while the Terriers improve to 5-9 overall and go to 2-0 in league action.
Four Seahawks finished in double figures, led by sophomore guard Blake Francis, who scored a game-high 23 points, on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, while playing the entire 40 minutes. For Francis, it marked the 12th time this season that the Herndon, VA native has scored in double digits while posting his seventh career 20-point performance and sixth this season.
Senior guard JoJo Cooper (Concord) continued to fill up the stat sheet, recording his fourth double-double of the season, and second straight,after finishing the contest with 16 points and a game-best 12 rebounds in 37 minutes of action.
Redshirt junior guard Romone Saunders, making his second straight start, posted his first double-figure scoring game since the 2016-17 opening game win at UConn,, hitting for 14 points, all coming in the second half of play. Classmate Elijah Davis added 13 points off the bench for the Green & White.
St. Francis Brooklyn had three players tally double figures, led by Rasheem Dunn's team-high 22 points, which included a 10-of-12 showing from the free throw line in 31 minutes of action. Glenn Sanabria and Milija Cosic each ended with 16 points on a combined 11-of-20 shooting from the floor.
The Seahawk offense was paced early by Francis, who scored the team's first seven points in giving the visitors a slim 7-6 lead. St. Francis Brooklyn took its lone lead of the first half, 9-7, after Darelle Porter made one-of-two from the charity stripe.
Wagner's tenacious defense held SFBK to just 1-of-10 shooting over the next 6:15 as the Green & White opened a 22-13 lead with 7:08 left before the half. Davis and Cooper combined to score 12 of the team's 15 points during the run, in which the Seahawks were firing on all cylinders, going 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line.
SFBK closed the stanza on a 16-9 run of its own in cutting the lead to just 31-29 at the break as the Terriers were able to hit on 6-of-13 over the final 7:07 of the frame while forcing six Wagner turnovers. Dunn and Johnson each had six during the spurt in helping the home team climb back into the contest.
The Green & White shot 52.4 percent from the floor in the half while only connecting on 28.6 percent from beyond-the-arc. Francis finished with 13 first-half points while Davis chipped in with seven. Cooper continued to fill up the stat sheet, ending the first half with five points, to with a team-high seven rebounds and one assist. 
When play resumed for the second half, Wagner extended its lead to six, 39-33, following a pair of made free throws from Francis before SFBK answered back to even the game at 39 after Dunn scored four the Terriers' next six points.
The visitors used a 16-7 run over a 5:19 stretch in taking a 55-46 advantage with 10:40 showing on the game clock. Wagner held the Terriers to just one made field goal over this stretch, with the Terriers getting all of their points from the free throw line. Saunders was the catalyst, scoring eight points during the Seahawk run.
St. Francis Brooklyn rallied back in the contest on the strength of a 12-3 outburst over the next 4:30 minutes in tying the game at 58 as the Terriers hit 5-of-7 from the field while limiting Wagner to just one made field goal, a Saunders layup at the 7:50 mark.
Francis put an end to the Terriers' run, thanks to a deep, left-wing three-pointer at the 5:44 mark, giving the Seahawks one of their final leads of the game. The teams traded free throws with Cooper making one-of-two from the line with 5:10 left, as Wagner held a 62-60 lead.
Sanabria was able to bank in a contested layup chance while drawing the foul on redshirt freshman forward Jamar Brown, sending him to the line for the traditional three-point play. Sanabria proceeded to rattle in the freebie, putting SFBK up one, 63-62, with 4:58 left in regulation.
A pair of Saunders free throws, followed by a Cooper layup with 4:23 left on the clock, kept the Wagner lead at two, 66-64, before the Terriers found their rhythm down-the-stretch. Cosic's three-pointer from the top of the key and a Jalen Jordan layup put SFBK up three, 69-66, with 3:44 left.
Wagner regained the lead following a pair of Davis free throws and a Cooper jumper, giving the Seahawks a 70-69 edge. It would prove to be the final lead of the contest, however, for the visitors as St. Francis Brooklyn closed out the contest on a 13-5 run in claiming the seven-point win.
For the game, Wagner shot 52.2 percent from the field, the second time this season that the Seahawks have converted over 50.0 percent from the floor and first since shooting 56.4 percent against UMass Lowell (12/5/17).
On the glass, the Seahawks were outrebounded for just the third time this season as St. Francis Brooklyn held a 38-29 advantage on the boards. The Terriers finished the game shooting 41.0 percent from the floor after being held to just 29.4 percent to open the contest.
Wagner returns home to the Spiro Sports Center to open 2018 with a Thursday night matchup against the Sacred Heart University Pioneers. Tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m.

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