01.01.13: The CCRI Knights men’s basketball team continued their play at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, FL with an even bigger challenge on Sunday as the Knights took on NJCAA DI No. 6 ranked (NJCAA DI poll) in the hosting Panthers of Palm Beach State College who came into the game with a perfect 16-0 record. The Knights battled tough and made it a game until the final whistle but fell ultimately 72-61 in a valiant effort.
Again the Knights came out fired up and caught the host team off guard. Behind the outstanding play of their talented backcourt of All-American Desmond Williams (Torrington, CT) and Bryan Yarce (Cranston, RI) the Knights to an early lead of 14-4. The Panthers quickly fought back to take an 18-17 lead with intense defensive pressure and went on a run of their own to go into the half with a 45-27 lead. The Knights were led in the first half by the hot shooting of Williams who had 17 first half points.
The second half saw the Knights play probably their best half of basketball of the season outscoring the top ranked Palm Beach squad 34-27. The Knights found themselves trailing by 23 with the score 55-32 after sustaining a big ruin by the high powered Panthers. However, the Knights answered with a big run of their own. The Knights played tremendous hard-nosed northeast style basketball to get back in the game and trailed by just seven points 64-57 with 3:00 left in the game. The Knights almost cut the lead to four points but 3-pointer by Co-Captain Steve Bevilacqua (Exeter, R.I.) just rimmed-out. The Knights ultimately lost the valiant fight 72-61.
Tri-Captain Desmond Williams was the game's high scorer with 23 points, two steals and a blocked shot and Tri-Captain Isaac Medeiros (Johnston, R.I.) added seven points and eight rebounds. The Knights also got big contributions with 24 points coming from their bench including six from Tri-Captain Steve Bevilacqua on two 3-pointers and six points and three rebounds from Steve Rush (Cranston, RI).
Head Coach Rick Harris commented after the weekend: “Unbelievable effort by our guys in these two games against two very tough Division I teams. Our guys displayed spectacular mental and physical toughness, and we again made a statement regarding our team identity. Our defensive toughness, outstanding and inspired bench play and potent offensive team play were all on display against very high level teams. Our tough national schedule which features seven top Division I opponents may not give us the prettiest record but prepares us for our goal of being the best team we can be. It is an unorthodox style and way to build a team, but having played in a national championship game, this team needs to be tested to their fullest and do all that they possibly can to give themselves the best chance possible to achieve national success. Our record or ranking is meaningless if we do not reach our potential. And I believe this team has the potential to be a national champion.”
The Knights’ next game will come at home when they will host the Vikings of Mercer County Community College from Trenton, NJ at 2:00pm at the Vincent A. Cullen Fieldhouse located on the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick. Following the game the men's basketball program will host “The CCRI High School Challenge” with three very exciting inter-state High Scholl basketball games: 4:30pm East Boston HS (MA) vs. Westerly HS (RI); 6:00pm Ledyard HS (CT) vs. South Kingstown HS (RI); and 7:30pm New London HS (CT) vs. St. Raphael Academy (RI).
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.