PHILADELPHIA – Senior guard Jim Connolly (Harleysville, Pa./Souderton Area) was honored before the Philadelphia University men's basketball contest against Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) foe Chestnut Hill Tuesday night as part of the Senior Night celebration in the Gallagher Center. At the end of the night, Connolly knocked down a step-back three-pointer from the left wing with 3.7 seconds left to give the Rams a thrilling 74-73 win over the Griffins in the regular season finale.
With the victory, Philadelphia closes out the regular season with an overall record of 17-9 and a conference mark of 12-5. The Rams finished second in the southern division and will host Post, the third-place finisher in the north, in a CACC Championship Tournament quarterfinal game on Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m. in the Gallagher Center.
Connolly finished up the night with a team-high 17 points and four rebounds. Five of his points came during a key 11-2 run that helped Philadelphia turn a 66-59 deficit into a 70-68 lead with 1:29 to go. Freshman forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) book-ended the surge with a pair of three-pointers.
After freshman forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) broke a 70-all tie with a 1-for-2 trip at the free throw line, Chestnut Hill's Luke Dickson buried a trey to put the Griffins (12-14, 8-9 CACC) ahead 73-71 with nine seconds left in regulation.
In the opening half, Philadelphia never trailed and used a 27-10 run to open up a 34-17 lead at the 4:07 mark. Freshman guard Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) led the charge with nine of his game total 15 points.
Thanks to a 51.9 shooting percentage (14-of-27) in the opening 20 minutes, Philadelphia took a 36-23 lead into the intermission.
Alexis finished the night with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to post his 11th double-double of the season. Sophomore guard Nick Schlitzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville) contributed 11 points and four rebounds in a reserve role.
Senior guard Stephen Griffin (Bowie, Md./Paint Branch) was also honored in the pre-game ceremony and scored the game's opening basket.
Chestnut Hill got a game-high 18 points from Mark DiRugeris, Jr. Christian Walck had a 13-point, seven-assist night, while Alssene Saintilus came off the bench to net 12 points.
Philadelphia ended the game shooting 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the field. Chestnut Hill hit at a 42.2 percent (27-of-64) clip, including a second half where it shot 52.8 percent (19-of-36).
The Griffins won the battle of the boards, 40-35.