PHILADELPHIA – Three days after hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater sophomore forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) went off for a career-high 27 points and 11 rebounds as the Philadelphia University men's basketball team edged Nyack 81-80 in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) contest Saturday afternoon in the Gallagher Center.
With the victory, Philadelphia improves to 20-5 overall, 14-2 in the CACC, and secures a home game for the first round of the CACC Tournament. The Rams—winners of nine in a row—reached 20 wins for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.
Sophomore forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) contributed 19 points, six rebounds, and five blocks. Junior guard Nick Schlitzer added 15 points and five rebounds and sophomore guard Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) had 10 points and six assists.
The Rams got off to a sluggish start, missing their first eight shots over the first seven minutes, and fell into a 17-2 hole. Chris Hampton buried a pair of 3-pointers at the end of the run for Nyack (9-15, 7-10 CACC) and Nick Moore added five points.
After Naanma Yamsat drained two free throws to put Nyack up 21-11, Philadelphia hit six of its next 11 shots to go on a 17-3 run and take a 28-24 advantage on an Alexis bucket at the 3:07 mark. Schlitzer led the surge with six points and Johnson contributed five.
Sophomore forward TJ Huggins (Alexandria, Va./TC Williams) extended the Philadelphia lead to six (32-26) with a slam dunk after an Alexis miss with 1:34 left in the half.
The Warriors fought back and tied the game at 36 on an Isaiah Roberts jumper, capping a 10-4 run, 1:48 into the second half. Alexis made sure the visitors did not go back in front as he threw down a dunk to put the Rams back up two (38-36).
Holding on to a 45-43 lead, Philadelphia rattled off seven straight points to move ahead 52-43 thanks to an Alexis put-back with 11:51 to play.
Nyack did not go away and managed to trim the Philadelphia lead to 73-72 on a Hampton layup at the 1:18 mark.
The Rams went 6-for-6 from the free throw line over the final 23 seconds to secure the victory.
Moore had a solid game for the Warriors, hitting 13 of his 16 shots and seven of his nine free throws to finish with a game-high 34 points. Hampton added 17 points.
Philadelphia finished the game hitting 50.0 percent (26-of-52) of its shots. Nyack shot 51.7 percent (30-of-58). The Rams owned a 32-27 rebounding advantage.
The Rams will attempt to lock up the CACC southern division when they head to USciences on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.