Raleigh, NC - On Saturday, Kenneth Collins (Jr./Clayton, NC) scored 19 points and Quincy January (Jr./Atlanta, GA) added 18 points and 14 rebounds as Saint Augustine's University spurted late to win its home men's basketball opener over Claflin University 72-62 at Emery Gymnasium.
The Falcons were down 51-47 with less than eight minutes left but a 25-11 run down the stretch propelled them to victory in front of their home fans. The key moment in the rally was a technical foul on Claflin Head Coach Ricky Jackson which swung the momentum in favor of the Falcons.
After the Claflin coach was whistled for arguing a call, Collins swished two free throws to break a 55-55 tie and give the Falcons a two-point lead. The Falcons (5-5 overall) never trailed from that point, stretching their lead to 64-55 on two January free throws with under two minutes remaining. The Panthers (4-4 overall) attempted one last run, but the Falcons defense was rock solid in the closing minutes.
January was a force on defense in the closing minutes. His presence in the paint forced the Panthers to miss several layups including a few which barely touched the front rim. On the other end, January connected on four of six free throw attempts in the final minute to put the game away for the Falcons.
His defense during crunch time was indicative of how the Falcons defended throughout the contest. They held Claflin to 62 points in the second meeting after the Panthers scored 85 points in a seven-point win on Nov. 21 in Orangeburg, S.C.
It appeared the Panthers were headed toward another big offensive day after opening a 20-13 lead in the first half. But the Falcons went to a zone defense which knocked the Panthers out of rhythm the rest of the way. The Falcons entered halftime leading 35-31 and limited the Panthers to 39.4 percent shooting in the decisive second half.
The Panthers still managed to post a higher shooting percentage (41.3 to 39.2), but the Falcons outscored the visitors behind the arc and at the free throw line. The Falcons were 9 of 19 from three-point land for 47.4 percent and 23 of 35 from the charity stripe for 65.7 percent in addition to winning the rebounding battle 41-31. By contrast, the Panthers were 4 of 16 behind the arc for 25 percent and 6 of 10 at the free throw line for 60 percent.
Anthony Gaskins (Sr./Greenville, NC) added 14 points and Craig McDaniel (So./Holly Springs, NC) scored a season-high 12 points for the Falcons. Triston Thompson dropped 13 points and Benjamin Williams and Trevor Dantzler each added 10 points for the Panthers.
After playing at home for the first time this season, the Falcons will embark on a three-game road trip beginning with a 7 p.m. matchup against defending CIAA champion Virginia State University on Tuesday, Dec. 13 in the CIAA opener. This will be the Falcons 10th road game in 11 contests.