BROOKLYN, N.Y. —The Western Connecticut State University men's basketball team suffered an 85-78 non-conference loss at St. Joseph's - Brooklyn on Tuesday evening at The Hill Center. With the loss, th Colonials dropped to 4-2 overall while the Bears improved to 3-1. Senior forward Fenton Bradley Jr. (Mansfield, CT) led the visitors with 16 points, while classmate Tracy Cleckley (Rosedale, NY) and Joe'L Cooper chipped in with 12 and 10, respectively.
Junior guard Frank Reali (Staten Island, N.Y./Susan Wagner) dropped a season-high 26 points to lead the hosts.
Reali drained a triple just 13 seconds into the game and moments later a Dimitri Sirakis (Oakland Gardens, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) steal led to a big dunk from Etheart for a quick 5-0 bump. However, the Colonials didn't back down as the game remained within four for the next few minutes until Ryan Alkins tied things up at 14 with a layup (14:24). The Bears responded with a 9-0 run on two threes from Reali and one from Sirakis to go ahead 23-14 at the 13:20 mark.
It proved to be a half of runs as WestConn ran off nine unanswered themselves to knot the score back up. Neck-and-neck play resumed until a finish from rookie Chris Edwards (Staten Island, N.Y./Monsignor Farrell) put the Bears ahead 36-27 with five-and-a-half minutes to go in the frame. The separation didn't last as the Colonials outscored SJC by seven over the final five minutes of the first cutting the deficit to 43-41 at the break.
The back-and-forth nature of this one continued in the second half with Bradley Jr. draining a long-ball at 15:09 to bring the visitors within one and, less than a minute later, Tyler Scalzo hit a trey of his own for a 52-51 Western Connecticut lead. Eight-straight points from St. Joseph's, featuring back-to-back threes from Edwards and Sirakis, gave them back the lead that they didn't relinquish again.
WestConn got as close as two and even cut the gap to three with just under three minutes to play, but the Bears consistently rattled off lead-preserving runs whenever the visitors came close to secure a hard-fought road victory in which they shot 51.9 percent from the field and 40.9 from three.
The Colonials return to action at non-league foe Manhattanville College on Sunday at 3 p.m.