STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Despite a game-high 26 points from senior forward Alex Francis (Harlem, N.Y.), the Bryant University men's basketball team fell to Wagner, 73-61, Sunday afternoon at the Spiro Sports Center.
Bryant (16-10, 8-3 Northeast Conference) was never able to get into any type of rhythm offensively, largely due to Wagner's (13-11, 7-4 NEC) inspired defensive play.
Francis led all scorers with 26 points, including his 2,000th career point, to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Junior guard Dyami Starks (Duluth, Minn.) finished with 11 points and three assists despite shooting just 3-of-13, while senior guard Corey Maynard (Adelaide, Australia) rounded out the Bryant double-figure scorers with 10 points.
Kenneth Ortiz paced Wager with 18 points and a game-high seven steals while Latif Rivers added 15 points in 30 minutes of play.
After trading the lead back-and-forth multiple times, the Seahawks opened up a 22-18 advantage behind back-to-back 3-pointers at the under-eight media timeout. Wagner continued its hot shooting to open up a double-digit lead, 32-22, with just over three minutes to play until the halftime break.
Seemingly unable to get over the 10-point hump, Bryant went into the locker room down 34-24 despite 12 points six boards for Francis. In typical Seahawk fashion, Wagner had eight players make their way into the scoring column led by six points apiece from Ortiz and Rivers.
The first few minutes of the second frame was all Wagner as the hosts opened up their largest lead of the afternoon, 41-28, with just 15:20 left on the clock. The Seahawk defensive effort continued to cause problems for Bryant on the offensive end as the Bulldogs found themselves down, 51-32, with just over 11 minutes to play.
However, the Bulldogs went on to open a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to just eight points, 53-45, behind a huge And-one from Francis, with just over six minutes remaining in the contest. In the final minutes of the contest, Bryant was able to shave down the Wagner lead to just seven, but just couldn't quite regain the lead, eventually falling 73-61.
With the loss, Wagner cut Bryant's two-game lead in the NEC standings in half, however the Bulldogs still remain in second place with five games left in the regular season. The Black and Gold will host Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday night. Tip is set for 7 p.m.