LORETTO, Pa. – Junior forward Alex Francis (Harlem, N.Y.) scored a game-high 21 points while sophomore Dyami Starks (Duluth, Minn.) added 18 as the Bryant University men's basketball team tied the program record for wins in a season and consecutive victories at the Division I level with a 78-58 topping of Saint Francis University at DeGol Arena Saturday afternoon.
The victory set a new all-time mark for wins against Division I opponents, as the Bulldogs improve to 9-4 with a sweep in the opening weekend of Northeast Conference action. The Red Flash, led by 13 points from Umar Shannon, fall to 1-12 (1-1 NEC) on the year.
Senior guard Frankie Dobbs (Berea, Ohio) chipped in 11 points for the Black and Gold, while Francis and junior Corey Maynard (Adelaide, Australia) each pulled in a side-best seven rebounds. SFU's Earl Brown recorded the only double-double of the day with 12 points and a contest-best 15 boards.
The Bulldogs took the early lead with a 10-0 run after Saint Francis scored the opening basket, as Bryant was responsible for the remainder of the scoring done in the first five minutes. But the visitors wouldn't score again for the next 3:20, allowing the Red Flash to close the deficit to just two points before sophomore shooter Joe O'Shea (Burlington, Vt.) converted a corner three for a 13-8 advantage.
Starks followed with a deep trifecta from beyond the top of the arc to double up the home team, and the Bulldogs were strong on defense, forcing Saint Francis into turnovers throughout the half.
Bryant kept the Red Flash off the board for five minutes mid-frame to build up a 22-8 advantage, also keeping SFU leading scorer Umar Shannon off the board until the 3:26 mark, when a layup moved the score to 31-15 in the visitors' favor.
The Black and Gold dropped in four treys in the half, including two from Starks and another from Dobbs, and went 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the opening 20 en route to a 40-18 halftime lead. Francis led a Bryant team that shot 54.2 percent in the frame with 12 first-half points while O'Shea picked up a pair of blocks for a new career high. The Bulldogs were, however, outrebounded in the stanza, 18-14, with the Red Flash picking up eight offensive boards despite a 29.6 shooting percentage.
The Bulldogs started the second half out slowly, picking up seven fouls and committing four turnovers in the first five minutes as Saint Francis scored eight of its first 11 points from the charity stripe and cut the Bulldogs' lead to 49-33 with just under 14 minutes left to play.
Bryant would regain a 20-point advantage quickly, and while Saint Francis would cut into it at times throughout the half, the Bulldogs upped their lead to 67-41 with less than eight minutes on the clock.
Ollie Jackson's back-to-back threes, followed by an acrobatic slam from Earl Brown with 4:07 remaining cut the Red Flash deficit to 17 points, 69-52, and a three from Dominique Major lessened the gap to just 15, 73-58, two minutes later. But the hosts wouldn't get closer than that as Bryant took home its fourth-straight victory, 78-58.
The Bulldogs return to Smithfield for their next outing and the team's first home game of 2013, hosting Quinnipiac at the Chace Athletic Center Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.