One night after Gerrell Martin hit a game-winning three-pointer for LIU Brooklyn a few blocks away, it was Aleksandar Isailovic’s turn for St. Francis Brooklyn (7-5) in Thursday night’s victory against Lafayette, 65-62.
After Lafayette guard Bryce Scott drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 62-62 with 20.6 seconds left, St. Francis guard Brent Jones found Isailovic, who banked in the game-winning trey from the left wing with 0.7 on the clock.
Isailovic, a Serbian senior, entered the game averaging only 1.6 points in 9.3 minutes per game. On Thursday night, he was a crucial piece with nine points on three three-pointers.
“The play was for Brent to play pick-and-roll with Jalen [Cannon] and then create from there,” Isailovic said of the final play. “He found me open. … It’s crazy. It’s the first [game-winner] in my basketball career, so it’s really exciting.”
“Him and another teammate, they usually play H-O-R-S-E before practice, ” St. Francis leading scorer Jalen Cannon added. “So it’s like another day in the office.”
Lafayette, which was without leading scorer Seth Hinrichs due to a left knee injury, had the hot hand early on. The Leopards rode Scott’s 22 first-half points to build a nine-point lead, which was eventually shortened to four points at halftime.
In the second half, the Leopards stalled, and the Terriers capitalized by taking 58-47 lead on Jones’ layup with 8:05 remaining.
Although Scott was still Lafayette’s main scoring threat, head coach Fran O’Hanlon played him sporadically because of a nagging injury.
“Bryce hadn’t played in the last game because he’s been injured on a bad ankle,” O’Hanlon said. “I was concerned whether he could finish up the game.”
Scott still finished with a career-high 35 points, including his game-tying three-pointer that capped off the Leopards’ 6-0 spurt in the final two minutes.
While Scott gave the best individual show, Cannon led the Terriers with 19 points and nine rebounds, although he struggled from the field at 5-of-14.
“I felt like I was rushing myself a bit,” Cannon said. “I felt like if I slowed down I could have made more shots. … Sometimes you have an off day, and today was my off day.”
The victory serves as another nice addition to St. Francis’ non-conference resume, not that the Terriers will have any chance at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in March.
Still, the Terriers now have victories against Miami (FL), Stony Brook, Canisius, and Lafayette. Stony Brook is one of the favorites in the America East, and Canisius and Lafayette are expected to contend in the MAAC and Patriot League, respectively.
With wins like these and their tough defense, the Terriers are as good a candidate as anyone to win the NEC.
But before entering NEC competition, St. Francis will host NJIT on Monday and then have a quick, two-game road trip with games against Delaware State and Columbia.