PHILADELPHIA – The University of the Sciences men's basketball team erased a double-digit first half deficit and used clutch free throw shooting down the stretch to hold off Holy Family, 85-81, in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) opener that was played within four points for the final 12:43 on Saturday afternoon.
After USciences (5-3, 1-0 CACC) established its largest lead of the afternoon, 54-49, on two Brendan Crawford free throws with 12:47 remaining, Holy Family answered with a basket on the next trip down the court and no team would lead by more than four the reminder of the contest.
There were six lead changes and six ties over the final 10:14.
Holy Family managed to tie the game on the next trip down the court, but Brandon Starr put USciences on top for good when he responded with a jumper to make the score 80-78 with 1:30 showing.
Da-Silva began the string of clutch free throw shooting with 29 seconds left, making 2-of-2 for a 82-78 advantage, but Holy Family hit a 3-pointer eight seconds later to pull within one.
Da-Silva then made 1-of-2 to give the Tigers a chance to tie or take the lead, but a 3-pointer hit the front iron and Paddy Casey was able to grab the rebound. The freshman was fouled and went on to hit 2-of-2 from the line to seal the victory.
Da-Silva and Casey were two of the six Devils who scored at least eight points, with Crawford leading the way by tying his career-best with 22.
Da-Silva was behind him with 18 and fell one rebound shy of his second career double-double. He approached a triple-double as he recorded game-highs of seven assists and three steals.
Gregorits was able to register his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. 12 of those rebounds were defensive, which moved him into ninth in program history with 462 for his career. He added a season-best five assists.
Freshmen Casey and Starr each set new season-highs with 16 and 11 points, respectively, with both making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
The two spearheaded a shooting performance in which University of the Sciences made 6-of-9 from 3-point range. The Devils shot 54.8 percent (34-of-62) from the field, compared to just 35.1 percent (26-of-74) for Holy Family.
USciences also held a 46-22 edge in points in the paint and dished out a season-high 23 assists, its second-most in a game since the beginning of last season.
It was third time this season that Casey has scored 16 points, and he also dished out four assists to match his season-best for the fourth time.
Toure rounded out the scoring with a season-high eight points to go along with a season-best seven rebounds and a career-high four assists.
Holy Family scored the first five points of the contest and quickly found itself up 21-9 after a 3-pointer just five minutes into play.
University of the Sciences stormed back with the next 16 points in just 3:22 though, holding the Tigers scoreless for 5:43 in the process. Da-Silva scored the first four points in the stretch before a Gregorits dunk sandwiched between two Casey 3-pointers.
Toure then had a tip-in before Crawford put an exclamation point on the run with a jumper to make the score 25-21 with 10:02 to go in the first half.
The game would be played within two possessions for the remainder of the afternoon as there were four lead changes and two ties in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Holy Family (1-5, 0-1) scored the final four points of the half, including a tip-in 11 seconds before the buzzer, to take a 41-37 advantage into the break.
The Tigers then made two free throws 55 seconds out of the locker room to build the largest lead of the second half, 43-37.
University of the Sciences used eight straight points to regain the lead, 49-45, on a Da-Silva layup with 14:46 remaining.
USciences hosts its first CACC contest on Tuesday, Dec. 5 when it welcomes Georgian Court to Bobby Morgan Arena for an 8 p.m. tip.