STEUBENVILLE – The Franciscan men's basketball turned in one of their best defensive performances to date as the Barons defeated visiting Pitt.-Bradford in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference action, Saturday afternoon.
The Barons shot 41.3% from the floor (26-for-63), their second-best shooting performance of the season while going 12-for-15 from the free throw line. Franciscan held the Panthers to a 27.5% shooting percentage for the day, their lowest shooting percentage for the season. Franciscan held UPB to just 56 points, also a season-low for Bradford.
"27 percent is 27 percent," remarked head coach Joe Wallace following the game. "I don't care who you play. That's locking it up. Our defense is going to keep getting better, especially at half court."
The Barons were led by sophomores Joe Schriner and Josh York with 10 points each. Schriner posted his first double-double of the season with 10 rebounds while dishing out four assists and had two steals. York narrowly missed a double-double with eight rebounds and added a pair of blocks. Senior guard Keoni Sablan turned in a complete game with eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
"Josh was a warrior out there," commented Coach Wallace. "Defensively, he had five offensive rebounds, he was getting deflections, he was disrupting the ball. Then to finally see him score was great. We needed his presence like that. And Joe had a really good game. He had to step up, playing without Jake, and handle a load of the basketball. He took good shots and didn't force the issue. Its huge to have 10 rebounds and four assists from that guard spot. I am really happy with his progression, he is starting to get comfortable."
After the two teams traded free throws to open the first half, the Barons built a 12-5 lead over the first 4:14 of action. Bradford cut the lead back down to six with a jumper, but York and Sablan hit back-to-back shots to push the lead to 16-7 with 12:32 to play. The two teams traded points until junior Juwan Perkins hit a jumper at the 9:03 mark to give Franciscan its first double-digit lead, 20-10. The Panthers answered, however, and went on a 6-0 run to cut the Franciscan lead to two, 20-18, with 6:45 to play.
After Franciscan and Bradford traded three-point plays, Franciscan used an 8-3 run over four minutes to build its lead back to seven, 31-24. Sophomore Matt Trent hit a pair of free throws in the final 10 seconds to give Franciscan a 33-25 lead at halftime.
The Barons controlled the play in the second half, taking a 17-point lead, 51-34, with 7:38 to play thanks to a jumper from Trent. Bradford trimmed the lead down to six, 57-51, with 3:30 to play, but that would be as close as Pitt.-Bradford would get as the Barons closed out the game with a 4-2 run.
"We had to do whatever we had to do today get the win," continued Coach Wallace. "We knew we had a week off so we let them do what they had to do. We were just relaxing and let them go through it. They handled and won. They deserved this win today."
After the week off for finals, the Barons continue the homestand on Monday, December 18 as they welcome Washington & Jefferson to Kuzma Court for a 5pm tipoff.