Daniel Amigo notched his third double double of the season (and second in a row) to help Denver get past St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. Amigo would end the game with an impressive 24 points and 16 rebounds, shooting 10-14 from the field and 4-6 from the line. Amigo also ended up with only three fouls, he did foul out yesterday against Florida Gulf Coast, but the foul troubles that plagued him at times last year seem to be much improved. It was another breakout performance in a season where the Pios will probably need games like that from Amigo to hang with the big boys in the Summit.
Denver got off to a hot start in the first half, grabbing a 10-3 lead at the under 16 timeout and making it look like we might in for a blowout. St. Francis Brooklyn stormed right back though – led by Darelle Porter and Glenn Sanabria, they would go on a 26-13 run and see their lead balloon to 29-23 with a minute and a half to go before the break. Thankfully Elvin Rodriguez and Joe Rosga led a little 5-0 run to end the half and give the Pios some momentum before the second half, despite their one point deficit.
The second half started slow for both teams, with a series of missed shots, turnovers, and fouls, but Denver was able to hang around and trade buckets with the Terriers. The Pios eventually grabbed a 37-36 lead with 13:19 to go and they would never relinquish that lead. Elvin Rodriguez scored 9 points in the final 10:20 and Denver hit five of their last six free throws to salt things away at the end for a 60-50 victory. It was a much needed win for a Denver team that had thus far only beaten one DII opponent and lost to the three DI schools they had played. St. Francis Brooklyn is not a good team, but this should do wonders for Denver’s confidence as it closes out this FGCU tournament.
Amigo was the star of the show for Denver, but there were many other performances of note. Joe Rosga had a rough shooting night, but still got double digit points (10) and 7 rebounds. Elvin Rodriguez had 14 points total, though no assists, which Coach Billups is sure to notice. Jake Krafka grabbed 10 rebounds and gave the team 29 strong minutes. Rebounding in general was huge for the Pioneers in this game, as they outrebounded the Terriers 54-25. There was also an improvement on the defensive side as St Francis Brooklyn scored only 50 points in 64 possessions, while shooting 21.4% from the field and 18.8% from three point land. The final margin of victory may have only been 10, but a closer look at the numbers reveals that Denver really did dominate this game.
It is an effort that the Pioneers will hope to repeat tomorrow against Navy. The Midshipmen are currently a 1.5 point favorite in the game, indicating that Vegas thinks the two teams are pretty close. They are somewhat opposite of Denver in that Navy’s defense is their strength, but they struggle offensively. It should be a good game, and more importantly, another chance for Denver to prove that can climb that next rung of the ladder this season. So far they have been able to beat up on the poor teams, but they’ve lost to average and good teams. A win tomorrow is a good sign that things are clicking and the team is continuing to grow and improve. A loss is not the end of the world – the season is still early and conference play hasn’t even started – but it would be a sign that the Pios still have a ways to go to be where they want to be at this point.