FLUSHING, NY – The Queens College men's basketball team got off to a rousing start and had three players finish the game in double-figures only to fall behind the prolific second-half shooting performance put on by Daemen College, losing by a final score of 75-62 Wednesday evening.
Senior Tyree White recorded his eighth double-double of the year in defeat, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, the better portion of which came in the first half when the Knights were able to jump ahead to a 10-point lead on two separate occasions before taking a three-point advantage into halftime. Diego Maldonado had a similar impact on the game's early going, scoring all 10 of his points during the first half. Malcolm Moore was the Knights' third scorer in double-figures, providing the only bright spot in a lopsided second half by scoring 11 of his 12 points during the period.
Playing at Fitzgerald Gymnasium for the first time since a December 10th victory over current league-leaders District of Columbia, the Knights were able to take early advantage of Daemen's struggles shooting the ball. White converted on an array of drives to the hoop to score the first 10 points for Queens, while the Wildcats slumped to 1-of-9 shooting to start. Two consecutive jumpers by Maldonado later extended the Knights' lead to 10, 15-5, which forced the visitors into a timeout with 13:38 remaining in the opening half. Daemen was able to draw up a play out of the timeout to get a three-point try to fall in, but Maldonado's second three-pointer moments later restored the Queens' lead to double-digits with 11:49 to go.
The Wildcats then rallied, turning the Knights over three times within three minutes of play to decrease the gap to two, 22-2. Daemen dominated the game's turnover battle; forcing the Knights into committing 21 before the night was over and using the added opportunities to score 20 points on the other end. Queens on the other hand only forced six and scored a lowly four points on those chances. Back-and-forth play to end the first half still resulted in the Knights leading by three, 31-28, at intermission.
Any hope for Queens of regaining their early momentum was quickly extinguished. Daemen exploded for 15 points in the first three minutes of action in the second half to leap out to a 41-34 lead. Baskets by Marquis Robert and Moore inched Queens to within five with another chance to cut the deficit to a single possession game, but Daemen held firm. Arif Mehmetaj gave the visitors their first double-digit lead of the game at 50-40, and Mehmetaj's three-pointer two possessions later put his team ahead by 13. The lead ballooned to as many as 17 after Darius Garvin made another three-pointer to make it 61-44 with just under nine minutes remaining, setting the stage for the final stretch when Queens was able to take back four points to lose by 13, 75-62.
In a tale of two halves, the Knights were outscored 47-31 over the game's final 20 minutes. The loss drops them to 4-4 in East Coast Conference action and 7-8 overall. Mehmetaj led the Wildcats in scoring with 21 points, 14 of which came in the tide-changing second half, and added eight rebounds. Senior guard Supreme Hannah chipped in 15 points and passed out five assists to help lift Daemen over .500 in conference play at 4-3 and 10-5 overall.
Queens College stays at home for Saturday's conference battle with LIU Post. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.