PRINCETON — Though Eric Williams' sharpshooting from long distance had almost singlehandedly kept Hun within striking distance of state and national powerhouse St. Benedict's, the Hun School senior was well aware that living by the 3-pointer is a dangerous proposition to try to sustain.
Williams led Hun, which whittled the difference to as little as six early in the fourth quarter, with 16 points on the strength of five shots from long distance, but St. Benedict's pulled away down the stretch and left Grant Shipley '42 Pavilion with a 73-59 victory Wednesday night.
“I just kept trying to share with my teammates,” Williams said. “I turned it over too many times and that’s something I have to fix, but sometimes that happens playing against a team like that.”
Hun fell behind into a 13-point hole, 32-19, midway through the second quarter when Eli Cain stole a pass at mid-court and connected with Marcus Ottey on a pretty alley-oop. Hun responded with an 8-0 run to pull within five, 32-27, before Trevon Duval, the No. 14 player in the class of 2017 per ESPN, scored seven of the Gray Bees’ nine points to close out the half and St. Benedict’s took a 42-29 lead into the break.
“(Hun coach Jonathan Stone) was just telling us that they came out a little tougher than us and that we started a little too slow,” Williams said. “If we want to compete better against a team like that we have to come out and play 10 times harder than them. Today we didn’t come out as hard as we needed to.”
Despite not having the success from long distance in the second half that it did in the first, Hun managed to hang around and outscored St. Benedict’s, 20-15, in the third quarter before pulling within 58-52 with 6:35 to play.
Hun’s first victory against St. Benedict’s since a 80-78 overtime win in 2010-11 was not meant to be, as Cain scored five of his team-high 15 points down the stretch and Arnaldo Toro chipped in seven of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“We had four straight possessions where we had good shots, but they just didn’t go in,” Stone said. “Maybe we were a little tired, but a couple of those go our way it’s a different game.”
Duval and Tyrell Gumbs-Frater scored 15 points to match Cain, who has family ties to the Trenton area and recently picked up an offer from the University of Cincinnati after de-committing from Delaware.
Not only does St. Benedict’s have a supremely talented roster, but also a deep bench that allows head coach Mark Taylor to substitute his players at a fervent pace, a luxury that allows the Gray Bees to play frenetic basketball almost the entire 32 minutes.
“It’s annoying,” Williams said of the Gray Bees’ unrelenting pressure. “It’s annoying having someone up on you at all times, but all that does is get you ready for college basketball. It’s always good playing against a team like that.”
Kyle Borden chipped in with 14 points and Austin Harriott and Dominic Robb also reached double figures for Hun with 10 points apiece.
“Our schedule is so tough, so to play these guys is great and something we enjoy,” Stone said. “We come at them every time we play them and we’ve been fortunate to beat them a few times over the years. Tonight wasn’t our night, but we love playing against teams of their caliber. It’s only going to help us in the long run.”
Contact Kevin Maloney at Kevmaloney33@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter at Kevmaloney33.