Flash putting it together

LORETTO – Winning streak.

That’s a phrase that hasn’t been tossed around much lately with the St. Francis men’s basketball team.

But Saturday afternoon, the Red Flash were finally able to get over the hump that has eluded them for more than one year.

Led by Anthony Ervin’s 19 points and five rebounds and Earl Brown’s 10th double-double of the season, St. Francis defeated Monmouth, 70-68, in front of 1,131 fans on senior day at DeGol Arena.

It was the Red Flash’s second straight win and fourth in seven games.

And with two games remaining in the regular season – at Central Connecticut and at Bryant next weekend – St. Francis still has an outside chance of getting into the Northeast Conference playoffs.

“Our guys have continued to battle and have great attitudes,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. “These guys have continued to work, they’ve continued to battle, they’ve continued to buy into the staff.

“It’s a long season and it would have been very easy for these guys to hang their heads, but the leadership of [Ervin], Tony [Peters] and Umar [Shannon] have not let the locker room wander.”

The Red Flash (5-22, 5-11 NEC) relinquished several second-half leads, but the defense stood tall when it needed to.

Monmouth (10-19, 5-11) put itself in position to force overtime when the Hawks refused to let the Red Flash inbound on two occassions with under 12 seconds to play.

On St. Francis’ third attempt, Ervin fell to the ground on the receiving end of a lob and was whistled for travelling.

Jesse Steele got off a contested 3-point attempt for Monmouth that bounced off the rim and to the corner as time expired.

“Just take your hat off to St. Francis. We got beat by a better team,” Monmouth coach King Rice said. “We played hard, but we’re not playing well enough.”

“I need to do a better job putting our guys in position to get the ball in space,” Krimmel said. “Then I told them that they need to do a better job of going to the ball and demanding the ball, wanting the basketball. That’s something we’ve got to learn from.”

Ervin capped off his week and his career at home in a big way after his 22 point, nine rebound effort in Thursday’s win over Fairleigh Dickinson.

“The last two games, [Ervin] has played unbelievably well and has made some big plays for us,” Krimmel said. “I couldn’t be happier for [Ervin] or Tony to go out on their senior night on a high note.”

“I had to leave it all out [on the floor] for the guy, who is my head coach now, that gave me an opportunity to come here,” Ervin said. “I had to play hard for the last two home games. It’s not going to stop, but I figured I’d give it all up. Last time playing here.”

A lot needs to happen for St. Francis to sneak into the postseason, but any Red Flash loss in the next two games will eliminate them.

Sacred Heart (9-17, 7-8) and Central Connecticut (11-15, 7-8) each have make-up games scheduled for Monday. The Pioneers (at Bryant) and the Blue Devils (hosting Quinnipiac) are tied for seventh and if both win Monday, the Flash will be eliminated.

“One game at a time,” Krimmel said. “Worry about the next day and next week will take care of itself.

“I wish we were in a little bit better position where we weren’t hoping and praying things would happen, but again, a testament to the way these guys have battled to at least put themselves in a position to play for something this late in the year.”

Game notes: Umar Shannon did not dress for Saturday’s game. Krimmel’s reasoning was that he was “just trying to get him 100 percent healthy.” … The last time St. Francis won two straight games was Dec. 1 and Dec. 3, 2011. Those wins were against Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson, also at DeGol Arena.

MONMOUTH (NJ) (10-19): O’Garro 1-2 0-0 2, Waite 3-5 0-0 6, Nesmith 7-13 2-2 20, Steele 5-14 7-7 19, Spinella 3-7 2-2 8, DiLeo 0-1 0-0 0, Palm 0-0 0-0 0, White 2-3 2-2 8, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Ware 0-1 0-0 0, Cox 2-3 1-2 5. Totals 23-50 14-15 68.

ST. FRANCIS (PA.) (5-22): E. Brown 3-6 6-9 12, Peters 2-4 0-0 4, G. Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 4-7 0-0 11, Ervin 9-12 0-0 19, Vigneault 1-1 0-0 3, Millaud-Meunier 4-9 1-2 12, Major 3-8 0-0 9, Drinnon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-48 7-11 70.

Halftime-St. Francis (Pa.) 31-30. 3-Point Goals-Monmouth (NJ) 8-22 (Nesmith 4-7, White 2-3, Steele 2-8, Brown 0-1, DiLeo 0-1, Spinella 0-1, Cox 0-1), St. Francis 11-23 (Jackson 3-6, Millaud-Meunier 3-6, Major 3-8, Vigneault 1-1, Ervin 1-2). Fouled Out-Jackson, O’Garro. Rebounds-Monmouth (NJ) 24 (O’Garro 7), St. Francis 28 (E. Brown 12). Assists-Monmouth (NJ) 13 (Steele 4), St. Francis 22 (G. Brown 8). Total Fouls-Monmouth (NJ) 18, St. Francis 15. A-1,131.