Bulldogs fall short against Seahawks

Bryant drops 78-61 decision to Wagner Thursday night in Staten Island despite Francis double-double

STATEN ISLAND – In a game that featured 47 fouls and was highlighted by Alex Francis's fourth double-double of the season, the Bryant University men's basketball team fell on the road, 78-61, to Wagner College at the Spiro Sports Center Thursday night.

Three different players fouled out of Thursday's Northeast Conference matchup, which was paced by a game-high 20 points from Seahawk guard Latif Rivers. Francis led the visiting Bulldogs (2-14, 1-4 NEC) with 16 points and a game-best 13 rebounds for his 12th-career double-double, while freshman Ben Altit (Herzeliya, Israel) matched his career high with 14 points off 6-of-11 shooting and posted a trio of blocks.

The teams combined to take 49 free throws in the contest, and Bryant tied a season high with 27 attempts from the line, making just 16 in the loss. Francis went 6-for-11 from the charity stripe alone, with junior point guard Frankie Dobbs (Berea, Ohio) converting six of his eight freebies. Wagner (13-3, 4-1) completed 14 of its 22 tries from the line, led by a 4-for-5 mark from Tyler Murray.

The game stayed tight through the opening 15 minutes, a stretch that featured four ties after the Bulldogs took a 6-0 edge to open the scoring over the first three minutes.

But with five minutes to play in the first frame, Rivers started an 18-4 run with a jumper that handed the home side its largest lead of the game to that point, 28-23. Wagner grew that lead to 17 points before the buzzer sent the teams to the locker rooms, and Bryant's four points all came at the line as the Seahawks led, 44-27, after the first 20 minutes.

The Bulldogs were held without a basket in the final 5:15 of the stanza while Wagner saw a number of breakaways throughout the frame, leading to 12 fastbreak points and another 12 second-chance points as the hosts also won out on the glass, 28-18, in the first.

Coming out of the break, Bryant scored the first five points of the second half, but the Seahawks would match the Bulldogs at every step, never allowing the visitors to make up any ground.

The teams would come out even in the second, 34-34, maintaining the 17-point final margin.

As a team, the Bulldogs shot 37.7 percent from the floor to the Seahawks' 43.9 percent clip, and four Wagner players finished the day in double figures. The hosts also won the rebounding battle by a 46-32 final margin.

The Bulldogs next head down to Emmitsburg, Md., for a Northeast Conference matchup against Mount St. Mary's Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be the first contest of a doubleheader with the women.

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