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Saint Francis goes from incredible start to season, to incredibly bad finish

Photo by Saint Francis Athletics (J.D. Cavrich): Ronell Giles Jr.

Saint Francis started the season with an incredible victory, and ended it with an incredible loss.

Not much went right for the Red Flash after they beat Pitt for the first time ever in their season opener, as the they lost 15 of their next 20 games. But Saint Francis at least had a chance to finish on a positive note and take something good into the offseason.

Instead, even that didn’t go the Flash’s way Thursday night.

Saint Francis led by 10 points with less than 4 minutes to go against Mount St. Mary’s at DeGol Arena. The Flash led by 7 with only 1:14 to go.

And gave it all away.

The Mount stormed all the way back, hitting a tying 3-pointer with 8 seconds to go to force OT, and the visitors dominated the extra session to steal a 72-65 win.

Even for a struggling team, losing a season finale like this — blowing such a big lead late — will sting a good bit as the coaches and players went from having potentially something positive to end on, to a huge negative.

“Certainly stings,” SFU coach Rob Krimmel said, “but I think it’s something we can use as motivation. It’s something that we can talk about as a group and use as motivation. … If you had lost by 50 or lose by five, to finish the season with a loss is disappointing, especially when I thought we played well enough to win.”

Saint Francis lost seven of its last eight games to finish 6-16 overall and 5-13 in the Northeast Conference. SFU is ninth in the 10-team league, ahead of only Central Connecticut State (4-13).

This was the program’s worst season since the first year Krimmel took over as head coach in 2012-13, when the Flash finished 5-24 overall and 5-13 in the league.

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SFU played without leading scorer Ramiir Dixon-Conover, who was out with an injury, and impressive freshman Maxwell Land also didn’t play because of an injury that’s kept him out the past few weeks.

Still, the Flash were in position to win, until Damian Chong Qui and the Mount battled back in the closing minutes. Chong Qui, one of the NEC’s best players, hit the tying 3-pointer with 8 seconds left to force OT.

Saint Francis helped the Mount’s comeback by missing one free throw after another down the stretch, keeping the door open for the visitors to stay just close enough.

Ronell Giles Jr. led SFU with 14 points, while Marlon Hargis had 12, Josh Cohen 11 and Mark Flagg 10. Chong Qui led the Mount with 16, and Deandre Thomas also had 16 off the bench.

We will wrap up the Red Flash season and look ahead to what could be in store for the program early next week.

Was it worth it?: See what Myles Thompson and Josh Cohen had to say when asked if playing the season was worth all the personal sacrifices they had to make.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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