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First-Place Wagner Earns 79-61 Win Over St. Francis Brooklyn For Sixth Straight Win

(Cooper, Wagner)
Staten Island, NY –
The Northeast Conference (NEC)-leading Wagner men's basketball team became the first team to punch its ticket to the 2018 NEC Tournament as they improved to 12-0 at home, defeating the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers, 79-61, for its sixth straight victory at the Spiro Sports Center on Saturday afternoon. 

The win avenges an 82-75 setback in Brooklyn back on New Year's Eve in a game that Wagner led most of the way. The Seahawks are now 17-6 on the season, 10-2 in the NEC. The Terriers, meanwhile, saw their overall mark fall to 10-14 and are now 7-5 in league play. 

Sophomore guard Blake Francis, the reigning Metropolitan Writers Association Player of the Week, led five players in double figures with 15 points, 12 of which coming in the second half of action. Senior guard JoJo Cooper stuffed the stat sheet by adding 14 points, eight assists, six rebounds and a steal, in 37 minutes of action. Redshirt junior guard Romone Saunders had 12 points, while junior guard Devin Liggeons and redshirt junior forward AJ Sumbry added 10 apiece.

In addition to his 10-point outing, the 6-8 Sumbry pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds to finish with his third double-double of the season in just 19 minutes of action. Since being inserted into the starting lineup six games ago, freshman guard Chase Freeman continues to give Wagner solid play, finishing with seven points on 2-of-3 shooting, with four rebounds while playing turnover-free in 25 minutes of play. Junior guard Elijah Davis, who led Wagner with 15 points in Thursday night's 72-59 win over Central Connecticut, also hit for seven points this afternoon.  
Wagner's NEC-best defense delivered its usual effort throughout, holding the Terriers to 33.9 percent on 19-of-56 shooting. From three-point range, SFBK wasn't much better, hitting on 6-of-21 for 28.6 percent. Chauncy Hawkins paced the Terriers with 18 points of the bench while Glenn Sanabria and Rasheem Dunn added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Despite struggling to find their rhythm in the first half, Wagner was able to build a 33-22 lead at intermission, in large part to limiting the visitors to just 28.6 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes.  After connecting on just 36.4 percent in that first half, which included an 0-of-7 effort from three-point range, the Seahawks found their momentum following the break, shooting 53.3 percent (16-of-30) overall and 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from beyond the arc in the second half.
When Hawkins drained a three-pointer for the Terriers with 18:22 left to make it a 35-25 deficit, the Seahawks went on a 12-4 burst over the next seven minutes, increasing their lead to 19 at 47-28, on a three-ball by Jo Jo Cooper (Concord), and never looked back. Wagner held a 46-34 advantage in the rebounding department, a 44.3 percent to 33.9 percent edge in overall shooting, while holding sizable margins in points in the paint (42-22) and second-chance points (15-9).
Wagner concludes its three-game homestand on Thursday, February 8 when the Seahawks welcome Bryant to Staten Island for a 5:00 p.m. The matchup between the Seahawks and the Bulldogs will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network with Dave Popkin and former Seahawk coach, Tim Capstraw, calling the action, along with Paul Dottino who will handle the sideline duties.

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