The Knights had their second tough loss in as many days at the Cougar Classic, dropping a 78-77 heartbreaker to Niagara County CC Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Knights fell to 8-5 overall, to go along with a 5-2 Region XXI record and a 1-1 conference record.
The Knights got down early, trailing 39-28 at halftime, but battled back in the second half to keep the game within striking distance.
Thanks in large part to intense defensive pressure; the Knights forced themselves back into the game, ultimately resulting in two free throws by point guard Anthony Jernigan (East Hartford, CT) to tie the game, 77-77, with 13.1 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Jernigan stole the ball but lost the ball out of bounds when he was bumped to the ground, allowing Niagara to draw up a final play.
Niagara set up an out of bounds play for a shot at the top of the key and a CCRI defender was called for a reach-in foul as time expired. Niagara was granted the opportunity to shoot free throws and Jordan Green calmly sank his first free throw to win the game.
Jernigan filled the stat sheet for the Knights with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Sophomore Elijah Okagbare (Atlanta, GA) also had a great game for the Knights, establishing his presence inside with 18 points and eight rebounds.
"We played two very strong teams (combined record of 19-2 going into the tournament) this weekend and gave them both all they could handle,” CCRI head coach Rick Harris said. “We had opportunities to get both games into overtime but came up short. The team played hard and that's what's most important at this stage of the season. I also believe that we truly improved this weekend. We're most interested in getting better every game and playing the strongest schedule possible gives us our best chance of doing that. Our long term goal remains to prepare ourselves to be playing our best basketball of the season come February and March.”
The Knights will now return home to host Bunker Hill CC at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night.
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.