Men's Basketball: Friga's Career-High Not Enough as Raiders Drop Second Straight

D'Vontay Friga (Photo by: JT Higgins)
D'Vontay Friga (Photo by: JT Higgins)

HOLLAND, Mich. -- Mount Union's men's basketball team lost on Saturday during day two of the Russ Devette/Holland Sentinel Classic to Olivet  (Mich.) by a final score of 103-97 in the Devos Fieldhouse.

Sophomore guard D'Vontay Friga (Cuyahoga Falls/Cuyahoga Falls) led the way for the Raiders as he came off the bench to score a career-high 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 6-of-9 from distance. Senior JJ Kukura (Alliance/Alliance) also contributed 28 points and was named to the All-Tournament team. Senior Miles Griffin (Massillon/Jackson) and Andrew Francesconi (Tallmadge/Tallmadge) also poured in 12 and 11 points, respectively.

With the loss, Mount Union dropped to 7-4 overall and Olivet advanced to 5-6 with the Raiders losing both games at the Russ Devette/Holland Sentinel Classic and the Comets going 1-1.

Olivet showed their tough 2-3 zone defense throughout the first half as Mount Union only shot 9-of-26 (.346) in the first half with seven turnovers. The Raiders started the game with an early 13-12 lead after a Francesconi three point basket with 14:22 mark of the first half. The Comets answered with a 10-0 run to take a 22-13 lead at the halfway point of the first half.  The Comets pushed their lead out to 21 at 44-23 with 2:05 remaining in the half but two three point baskets from Friga and a made basket from Olivet sent the teams to the locker room with the score 46-29.

Any push the Raiders attempted to make early in the first half was answered by Olivet as they each scored 13 points in the first five minutes of the second half. Friga then scored six straight points for the Raiders to cut the deficit to 11 at 63-52 with 12:47 left in the game. Kukura cut the deficit to single digits after four free throws and then Griffin converted on a layup to cut the deficit to seven at 67-60 with 10:45 left in the contest. The Comets answered with a 15-0 run to push their lead to 22, their largest of the game. The Raiders continued to battle as they answered the Comet run with an 11-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to 13 with 4:39 remaining. Two turnovers from the Comets allowed the Raiders to go on a 10-2 run after the Comets pushed the lead back to 17 with seven points from Kukura and a three-point basket from Friga with 2:00 left in the game. The Raiders made a late run in the final minute as they cut the deficit to four at 101-97 off the first five career points from Andrew Carbon (Struthers/Struthers) and three more from Friga.  

Mount Union shot 30-of-69 (.435) from the floor and 15-of-39 (.385) from distance while Olivet shot 31-of-59 (.525) from the floor and 5-of-15 (.333) from three. A big difference in the game was the ability to get to the line for the Comets as they shot 36-of-48 from the free throw line while the Purple Raiders only got the line 26 times making 22 of them. 

The Raiders will look to bounce back from a tough weekend in Michigan with a matchup on the road with Ohio Athletic Conferene foe Baldwin Wallace Wednesday, January 3rd at 7 p.m.