Wilkes-Barre, Pa. - The No. 15 ranked Trinity men's basketball team fell 79-74 to the Susquehanna Crusaders on Friday evening in the opening game of the First National Community Bank/Monarch Classic hosted by King College. The loss is the Bantams second in a row, dropping them to 4-3 on the season while Susquehanna improves to 8-0.
The Crusaders came out of the gates hot, establishing an 11-7 lead with just over five minutes of basketball played which led to Trinity's first time out of the game. The teams traded points until the Bantams went up 29-22 with 6:58 remaining in the half, forcing Susquehanna to call a time out to try and quell Trinity's momentum. The Crusaders chipped away at the eight-point lead until Trinity senior captain forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) battled underneath for one of his five offensive rebounds, came down with the ball, put it back for two points, while getting fouled on the shot. The three-point play gave the Bantams a 38-31 lead, however the Crusaders finished the half on a six-point run to cut Trinity's lead to 38-37 as the teams headed to the locker rooms for halftime.
The teams traded baskets in the early part of the second half. With Susquehanna up 56-53, Trinity freshman guard Paul Colson (Baldwin, N.Y.) scored five straight points to give the Bantams the lead back, 58-56, with 11:30 remaining in the game. Trinity found themselves in foul trouble early, earning their seventh team foul with 9:00 still remaining in the game. Down 64-62 with less than six minutes to go, Trinity had the ball, and with the shot clock winding down to zero, senior captain guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) buried a deep-three pointer to beat the shot clock and give the Bantams a 65-64 lead.
In the last five minutes of the game however, the Crusaders went on a 13-9 run to seal the win and remain undefeated.
Ajayi finished with a team high 19 points and 13 rebounds while Starks had 13 points of his own. Susquehanna had four players who score double-digit points, led by senior guard Josh Miller (Strasburg, Pa.) who finished with 19.
Trinity will play in the third-place game tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. against the winner of host King's College and the Apprentice School