STEUBENVILLE – Freshman Sean Hickey hit the go-ahead jumper with 2.8 seconds left on the clock to lift the Franciscan men's basketball team to a thrilling 62-60 win over visiting Pitt.-Greensburg, Wednesday evening.
Trailing by four with 1:42 to play, the Barons (3-9, 2-4 AMCC) got to work under their basket making every possession count. Sophomore Joe Schriner made a jumper as the Barons' shot clock was winding down with 1:23 to play and sophomore Matt Trent pulled down the defensive rebound on the other side of the floor on Greenburg's (4-7, 2-4 AMCC) next possession and made a jumper on the other end of the court to tie the game 60-60. After Cam Seigfreid's baseline three went long, sophomore Aaron Foldi collected the rebound and head coach Joe Wallace called a timeout to set up the game-winning play. Senior Keoni Sablan took the inbound pass and kicked it out to Hickey who was waiting patiently just inside the three-point arc. Hickey drained a contested shot and give Franciscan a 62-60 lead with 2.8 seconds to play. Greensburg immediately called a timeout, but Joe Mancini's last-ditch shot from just beyond the three-point line hit the rim and sophomore Josh York collected the rebound for the Barons 62-60 win.
"Sean is so cool and calm out there," complimented head coach Joe Wallace. "He really showed poise in the second half and to hit the game-winner as a freshman is an unbelievable experience. We need him today."
Trailing 36-26 after halftime, the Barons shot 51.9% from the floor to fuel the comeback victory. Trent kicked off the second-half scoring with a jumper 1:34 into action. After a pair of Bobcat layups, Foldi checked into the game just under the 17-minute mark and immediately made an impact. The sophomore made a tough layup while drawing the foul and hitting the subsequent free throw to cut the Bobcat lead down to 11, 42-31, with 16:27 to play. On Franciscan's next possession, Foldi hit another jumper to get the deficit to single-digits, 42-33.
"We were really struggling and Aaron came in and sparked us," remarked Coach Wallace. "His energy on defense and creating off the dribble was huge. He has been patient and deserves the rewards."
The Bobcats extended their lead to 14 with six unanswered points with 14:27 to play but York's free throw halted the run and kicked off a 10-0 run for the Barons, highlighted by seven points from Hickey, to get Franciscan to within four 47-43. Hickey knocked down another three after a Bobcat free throw to cut the deficit to two with 10:42 to play but UPG pushed its lead back to six.
The game remained a back-and-forth affair for most of the rest of the second half until a pair of Sablan free throws made it a two-point affair, 58-56, with 2:12 to play. Jay Grubb hit Greensburg's final basket of the night with 1:42 to go before Franciscan closed out the game with six-straight points to seal the win.
The first half was dominated by the Bobcats as they held Franciscan to a 38.5 shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes. Both teams struggled to get points on the board in the first four minutes of play before the two teams traded two-pointers at the 16-minute mark. The Bobcats built a 20-12 lead over the next eight minutes before Hickey halted the run with a three with 8:02 to play. Franciscan struggled to find a rhythm on offense as each of the Barons' runs were met with an equal one by the Bobcats. Trent closed out the first half with a free throw to keep Franciscan within 10 and set up the thrilling second half.
"It took us about 30 minutes to get going, but we got it done," continued Coach Wallace. "Good things are coming our way."
Hickey paced the Barons with 15 points behind a 6-for-11 day shooting while Sablan added 14 points and Trent chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds. Foldi and Schriner each finished with seven points. Senior JP Dombrowski had six points and seven boards for the Barons.
"Keoni made huge plays down the stretch and did what winners do in crunch time," remarked Coach Wallace.
Franciscan finished the day shooting 45.3% (24-for-53) while holding Greensburg to a 38.3% day on the floor (23-for-60).
Franciscan looks to carry this momentum into Saturday as the Barons host D'Youville for a 1pm AMCC showdown.