HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College men's basketball team fought all the way back from a 12 point deficit midway through the opening half of play and nearly completed the come from behind victory Sunday afternoon in the Fords' home opener. However, Rochester Institute of Technology (2-0) scored 12 of the game's final 14 points to erase the Fords' (1-1) 60-59 lead that it held with 3:54 to play in the game, walking away with a 71-62 victory.
The Fords took that lead after Anthony Reyes came up with a steal on the defensive end and turned that into a layup on the fast break. Reyes finished with a career-high 27 points on the afternoon. Gibby Graves added 15 points, while Matt Sherman finished with nine on the day after setting a new career high in the season opener. A.J. Horde finished with 22 points to pace RIT. J.P. Reagan secured a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Miguel Lopez added in 12 points off the bench for RIT.
The Tigers came out firing on all cylinders on the offensive end as they hit three of their first four from beyond the arc to jump out to a nine point lead just over four minutes into the contest, RIT's lead grew to as many as 12 points in the opening stanza as the team went on to hit four of its first six 3-point attempts from the field in the game. After the quick start, RIT made just 4-of-20 from distance the rest of the game.
Haverford would begin to climb back in the game with an 8-0 run later in the half, featuring the final six points from Reyes, making the score 25-23 with just over seven minutes left in the opening half. The Fords finally got even on the scoreboard for the first time since the teams exchanged baskets to start play with a pair of free throws from Graves to knot the score at 29. The Fords looked to be heading into the locker room deadlocked at 33, but RIT went the length of the floor in six seconds after a game-tying basket from Justin Winkler and got a three from Joe Stortini to take a 36-33 edge into the break.
Just like the opening half, it was the Tigers that came out strong to start the second, running their lead up to eight points. Haverford cut that lead to as little as four points, but with 11:40 showing on the clock the Tigers had pushed the lead back to eight at 51-43.
In a seemingly mirror image of the first half, Haverford made its run at the midway point of the second half. The Fords took their first lead of the night with a 10-0 run, giving them a 54-51 advantage. Graves gave the Fords the lead after he hit a layup following a missed second free throw on the offensive end. The Fords made it a three point margin when Lucas Colombo came up with a steal and found Sherman for the easy two.
During a back-and-forth contest down the stretch, the two teams would be tied three times in a span of 2:17. James Levine knotted the game for the eighth and final time with a free throw and would give Haverford a one point lead with five minutes to play after making the second. Reyes gave the Fords their final lead of the night off his steal; however, the Tigers would lock down defensively and score on five of its final six possessions to steal the win away on Haverford's home floor.
RIT finished the game with a 57-26 edge in rebounding for the contest. However, that was offset by the Haverford defense forcing 26 turnovers, while committing just 10 giveaways on the offensive end. Sherman finished with four steals on the night, while Graves and Colombo each had three to help the defense's cause.
After splitting its opening games at the Equinox Classic, men's basketball will now have almost of full week to prepare the Centennial Conference opener against Dickinson. That game will take place next Saturday at 3 p.m. and be the second of four straight home contests for the Fords. The men's game will be preceded by the women's game at 1 p.m.