PHILADELPHIA – Holy Family's Eric Esposito connected on a catch-and-shoot three-pointer from the left wing off of a long inbounds pass to beat the buzzer and give the Tigers a wild 83-81 victory to end the #7/8 Thomas Jefferson University men's basketball team's bid for an undefeated conference schedule in the regular season finale at the Gallagher Center on Saturday.
The defeat ended the Rams' (25-3, 18-1 CACC) 18-game win streak. They will look to bounce back in the quarterfinals of the CACC Tournament when they host Felician on Tuesday, March 3 at 6 p.m. Holy Family finishes the campaign with a 10-18 record and a 7-12 CACC mark.
The Tigers started off strong, scoring 12 of the game's first 14 points. Jefferson responded with nine in a row to close the gap to one (12-11). The teams stayed within one possession for the next three minutes until Holy Family held a 21-19 advantage. The Rams then embarked on a 12-0 run to go ahead 31-21 (6:17). The Tigers cut the deficit to two (31-29) before Jefferson ended the period with eight of the last nine for a 39-30 halftime lead.
The Rams opened the second half with five points, giving them their largest margin of the contest (44-30). The score was 50-38 when Holy Family got back into the game with a 13-2 rally that ended with 12:28 on the clock. Jefferson continued to maintain the lead and senior Kylan Guerra hit back-to-back threes (5:25, 4:42) to make the score 75-66. The Tigers recovered to score six in a row and get within three (75-72) with 3:43 to go.
Guerra made a layup (3:03) and both teams registered a pair of foul shots to make the score 79-74 (1:54). HFU nailed a three to make it a two-point game with 1:49 left. Another triple gave the Tigers the lead, 80-79, with 27 seconds to play. Guerra then drove the lane and made a layup with 10 seconds remaining to put the Rams in front, 81-80. Jefferson stole the ball on the next possession and drew a foul with 0.9 on the clock but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Holy Family grabbed the rebound and quickly called timeout, giving the Tigers 0.4 seconds to work with. Jake McGonigle threw a long pass to Esposito, who leapt, caught the ball and got the shot off in one motion before the light came on.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Sophomore Deondre Bourne led the Rams with a game-high 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, 7-of-12 from three.
- Senior DeVaughn Mallory picked up his 13th double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 boards.
- Guerra tallied 16 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
- Senior Josh Bradanese produced 14 points and senior Prince Hickson contributed nine points, eight rebounds and six assists.
AS A TEAM
- The Rams shot 40.6% (28-for-69) on field goals, 34.4% (11-for-32) on three-pointers and 77.8% (14-for-18) on free throws.
- Jefferson outrebounded Holy Family, 42-33.
- The Rams committed just nine turnovers.
- Jefferson honored seniors Josh Bradanese, Kylan Guerra, Prince Hickson and DeVaughn Mallory prior to the game.
- Guerra recorded his 500th rebound in the game and became just the second Ram ever to produce 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in his career (Russell Frederick).
- The Rams had single-digit turnovers for the ninth time this year.