LORETTO – Randall Gaskins really isn’t known for his scoring.
Well, until Saturday night, that is.
In a game that looked in the middle of the second half like it might be a runaway, St. Francis University needed to turn to senior guard Randall Gaskins and his modest 4.2-point scoring average in crunch time.
Gaskins delivered, kissing a high-arching running hook off the backboard and through the hoop as time expired to lift the Red Flash over visiting St. Francis-Brooklyn, 81-80, in a Northeast Conference men’s basketball barnburner at DeGol Arena on Saturday.
It was the first time this season Gaskins has scored in double digits – he finished with 12, while Isaiah Blackmon led St. Francis with 19 and Keith Braxton netted 13 – and, he said, probably his first buzzer-beater since elementary school.
“It felt amazing. Probably one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life,” the 6-foot-3 Gaskins said. “I wanted a moment like that. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen.”
Tyler Stewart’s wing 3 gave the Flash a 61-48 lead with 13:01 left. However, from then on, it was the Terriers taking control, and, when Chauncey Hawkins was fouled by Blackmon and made two foul shots with 5.0 seconds on the clock, St. Francis-Brooklyn had the lead and was on the verge of a huge upset.
In timeout, though, Red Flash coach Rob Krimmel decided to go to either Gaskins or junior Ramiir Dixon-Conover over Blackmon and Braxton because they were successful getting in the paint.
“I went with my senior. It was get him the ball, get him going down the floor,” Krimmel said.
Gaskins took the ball from Stewart and went straight up the court, just outside the right side of the lane.
“I was going to make the right read. Whoever was open, I was going to hit them,” Gaskins said of the game-winner.
“Nobody stepped up, so I just went in.”
Gaskins also hit a pair of free throws with 1:01 left to tie the game at 78. He was 4-for-4 from the field, and also handed out three assists.
Krimmel was thrilled for Gaskins’ moment, not just because of the win, but because Gaskins has been a glue player and defensive stopper for the Flash.
“If there’s a Mount Rushmore of guys that know how to play the game, Randall’s on it,” Krimmel said. “For him to experience something like this on a public stage is awesome.”
Dixon-Conover added 10 points for St. Francis. The Red Flash improved to 10-5 overall, 3-1 in conference play and reached the 80-point mark for the third straight game in winning for the eighth time in nine outings.
“We went up about 10, but we couldn’t stretch it past 10 or 12,” Dixon-Conover said. “They kept coming back. We just had to be prepared for the moment. Randy was able to make a play at the end.”
Hawkins led St. Francis-Brooklyn (7-8, 1-2) with 16 points, going 6-for-6 at the line down the stretch.
St. Francis shot a blistering 58.1 percent from the floor in the first half to carry a 47-40 lead into the locker room.
After spotting their namesake from New York an eight-point advantage 8 minutes in, the Red Flash looked every bit one of the Northeast Conference favorites.
Braxton tied the game at 30 on a layup at the 6:33 mark. The basket was part of a 13-2 St. Francis run highlighted by Braxton’s fastbreak lob to Blackmon. Blackmon couldn’t dunk it, but he did manage to tip it in while being fouled, and he came away with a big smile before finishing the three-point play.
Krimmel breathed a sigh as he entered the media room following the contest.
“I’m so proud of these guys. The old ‘bend-but-don’t-break,’” Krimmel said. What a college basketball game. I think I’m still a little overwhelmed by the way that thing finished.”