PHILADELPHIA – Sophomore forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) scored 21 points, including the game-winning jumper from the right elbow as time expired, to carry the Philadelphia University men's basketball team to a 79-78 win over Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) rival Chestnut Hill Tuesday night in Sorgenti Arena.
Philadelphia—now a winner of eight in a row—improves to 19-5 overall and 13-2 in the CACC. The Rams magic number to earn the southern division crown is trimmed to two.
Chestnut Hill falls to 7-15 overall, 5-10 against the CACC.
After a back-and-forth opening seven minutes, the Rams took control of the first half with a 12-2 run to grab a 24-14 lead on a lay-up by senior guard Nick Christian (Bensalem, Pa./Bensalem).
With the gap trimmed to eight after a pair of Seamus Radtke free throws, Philadelphia outscored Chestnut Hill 21-9 over a 5:47 stretch to take a game-high 20-point lead (45-25) with 3:52 left in the half. Junior guard Nick Schlitzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville) and Johnson each knocked down a pair of threes to lead the charge with six points a piece.
Chestnut Hill, with the help of four points from Jakeem Bogans, came back to make it a 47-34 game at the break.
Philadelphia remained in front until the 5:48 mark when Christian Walck capped a 7-0 Chestnut Hill run with a made free throw to put the Griffins ahead 64-63.
The Rams regained a two-point lead (66-64) on their next trip down the floor thanks to a 3-point basket from Johnson. Gibbs drained a trey with 4:19 to play to extend the lead to 70-66.
The pesky Griffins rallied once again with a 7-2 spurt to erase the Rams' four-point cushion and take a 78-77 lead on a Radtke put-back with four seconds left.
Schlitzer drained five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 23 points in the victory. Christian shot 5-of-6 from the field to record 11 points. Sophomore forward TJ Huggins (Alexandria, Va./TC Williams) stepped off the bench to post 10 points.
Walck and Radtke paced Chestnut Hill with 14 points each. Jakeem Bogans netted 11 points, while Taylor Trevisan had 10 points.
The Rams shot a season-best 62.5 percent (30-of-48) from the floor, 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from behind the arc. The 12 made 3-pointers are a season-high. Chestnut Hill connected on 49.2 percent (29-of-59) of its attempts.
Philadelphia returns to the Gallagher Center to take on Nyack in a CACC clash on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m.