SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The top two seeds in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Basketball Tournament, No. 1 Nichols and No. 2 Gordon, took care of business at home in the CCC Semifinals on Thursday night to earn trips to CCC Championship game on Saturday, Feb. 23. Nichols will host the game at Holy Cross' Hart Center Arena at 4:30 p.m.
The defending CCC Tournament Champions looked to be in danger of an early exit as they trailed No. 5 seed Western New England, 46-36, at halftime. However, the Bison were able to come from behind, outscoring the Golden Bears, 51-33, in the second stanza for the 87-79 result.
The Fighting Scots also had to battle for their spot in the CCC Championship. Their CCC Semifinal was tied with as few as six minutes remaining in the game. However, the No. 2 seeded Scots finished strong, outscoring the Hawks 18-4 down the stretch for the 103-89 victory.
The two teams split their regular-season series with each team winning on the road. The Fighting Scots took the first meeting, 76-72, in January, while the Bison were victorious, 107-93, about two weeks ago.
This is the third straight year that Nichols will be playing in the CCC Championship, winning the title in each of the past two years. Gordon will be making its first CCC Championship since 2013-14, when it won the CCC Tournament title, coincidentally defeating the Bison.
The winner Saturday's championship game will be named the CCC Tournament Champion will receive the conference's automatic qualifier into the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship.
#1 Nichols 87, #5 Western New England 79
Game recap courtesy of the Nichols Sports Information Department.
DUDLEY, Mass. – Freshman Jaekwon Spencer (Bristol, Conn.)came off the bench to record a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Nichols = men's basketball team, which rallied past Western New England 87-79 in CCC Semifinal action Thursday night at the Nichols Athletic Center.
The top-seeded and No. 15-ranked Bison (24-2) trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half before a furious comeback saw them send the Golden Bears home for the third time in the last four seasons (2016, 2018, 2019). Senior Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.) struggled from the field but finished the night with 21 points (8-of-11 FT) in 40 minutes of action while junior Jerome Cunningham (Westbury, N.Y.) battled foul trouble all night but filled the stat sheet with 17 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, and three dimes.
Senior Mikey Pettway (Bridgeport, Conn.) poured in a team-high 22 points (10-of-19 FG) in his final collegiate game for the Golden Bears (12-15), who shot 51 percent on the evening – including 59 percent in the first half which closed with them holding a 46-36 lead. Junior Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) knocked down four triples and finished with 20 points.
The Golden Bears rattled home eight of their first nine shots and raced out to a 27-8 lead behind three three-pointers form Reilly and eight points from Pettway. The visitors settled into a 10-point halftime lead as Pettway led all student-athletes with 14 points while Cunningham's 10 paced Nichols.
The Bison climbed to within single digits following a jumper by junior DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.) three-and-a-half minutes into the second half. Back-to-back triples from Echevarria gave the Bison their first lead of the night at 65-64 with 10:01 on the clock.
Western New England answered back and led by three with 3:29 to go on a three from sophomore Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) before a three-point play from Spencer tied the game at 75. Cunningham's layup on the next NC position put the home team ahead by two (77-75), and five free throws from Echevarria and three from Nate Tenaglia (Tewksbury, Mass.) sealed the victory.
Three things you need to know…
-Tonight's contest marked the 42nd all-time meeting between Nichols and Western New England. The Bison won all three meetings this season (eight of the last nine overall) and lead the series, 28-14.
-Echevarria extended his NCAA-record of games with a three-pointer to 100. In the process, he moved into 25th place on the Division III scoring list with 2,409 points.
-Nichols has now won 24+ games in each of the past four seasons.
#2 Gordon 103, #3 Roger Williams 89
Game recap courtesy of the Gordon Sports Information Department.
WENHAM, Mass. – Meeting for the third time this year, Gordon men's basketball topped No. 3 seed Roger Williams with a thrilling 103-89 CCC Semifinal victory in front of a deafening home crowd at the Bennett Center this evening. The Fighting Scots advance to the CCC title game and will face top-seeded Nichols on Saturday, February 23 at Holy Cross. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.
For the Fighting Scots, Eric Demers (Acushnet, Mass.) and Garrisson Duvivier (Brockton, Mass.) both shot 76.5 percent from the field, scoring 34 and 28 points, respectively. Jake Haar (Huntington Beach, Calif.) added 15 points, all from behind the arc, while Noah Szilagyi (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) chipped in 14 points in the win.
Austin Coene (Tyngsborough, Mass.) led the way for the Hawks, netting 36 points and dishing out six assists, Eli Harris (Falmouth, Mass.) had 20 points, and Drew Hart (Cheshire, Conn.) added 13 points in the effort.
How It Happened
- Both teams found offensive success to start the game with Gordon maintaining the slight lead. Haar connected on a three-pointer, then hustled back on defense stealing the ball from JJ Pfohl (Trumbull, Conn.) before pulling up for another three which brought the crowd to their feet.
- The Scots led by as many as 11 thanks to a Josh Crutchfield (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) layup, but Roger Williams had other plans. Harris and Coene combined for 15 points in the next six minutes to tie the game at 44. Demers hit a jumper with 53 ticks left on the clock to take the 51-49 lead going into the half.
- Roger Williams got in rhythm offensively to open up the second leading for the first ten minutes of the half with Coene scoring 10 minutes within a two minute span.
- Demers hit a trio of unanswered three-pointers to give the Scots the lead and forced Roger Williams to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Duvivier hit a layup to become Gordon men's basketball's all-time leading scorer and also brought the score to 81-74 with 8:32 left.
- Harris tied it up with 5:43 to go after sinking a shot from downtown. Haar answered back with a three of his own to take the lead for good. Gordon hit six-straight free throws to close out the contest, solidifying the 103-89 win.
Beyond The Box Score
- In head-to-head matchups with Roger Williams this season, tonight's win marks the largest margin of victory.
- Newly appointed Men's Basketball all-time leading scorer, Duvivier now has a career total of 1,909 points and counting. The record was held by Jim Petty who held the previous record of 1,902 set in 1995.
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Tuesday, Feb. 19
Semifinals – Thursday, Feb. 21
Finals – Saturday, Feb. 23
#2 Gordon at #1 Nichols, 4:30 p.m.
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.