HIALEAH, Fla. ( Dec. 22, 2022) – Emotions ran high during Florida National University’s Christmas Classic, as the Conquistadors men’s basketball team collected a loss versus the Johnson and Wales University Providence Wildcats. The Conquistadors (2-8) went 24-42 (57.1%) from the field but it was not enough to overcome the Wildcats’ 13-25 (52.0%) shooting from behind the three-point line.
In the opening half, the Wildcats held a 43-37 lead at the break due in part to 14 and 12-point performances from Jontai Williams and Josh Zangerie, respectively.
FNU’s Gabriel Casillas had an electric first half going 6-10 from the field including four three point makes for 19 first-half points. Jovan Debrito had four points in the first half and ended the night with 10 points following a couple of solid stepback jumpers from the inside.
Matthew Robinson had solid half of his own with 10 points and two assists. With just six points separating these teams, FNU looked to full-court press their opponents to force some turnovers.
The second half saw 11 forced turnovers by the Conquistadors, yet the wildcats stayed the course, finding open shooters and driving to the basket with a purpose. Yasmani Torriente was on the verge of a career night picking up 16 points in the second half but ultimately fell victim to foul trouble that kept him out of FNU’s final minutes of play.
JWU’s Zangerie connected on two of four three-pointers he attempted and went 5-6 from the free-throw line to help his team gain a late advantage before a putback from Casillas cut FNU’s deficit to 79-76. Despite the score, JWU played a disciplined game down the stretch as free throws from Zangerie and Sean Davis deprived FNU of a coveted comeback win on home court.
Casillas ended the night with 26 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Despite collecting five fouls, Torriente put up 20 points while Robinson was credited with 14.
Up Next: FNU takes on the Keiser University to ring in 2023 on Jan. 7 in West Palm Beach, Fla.