Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's basketball team was outlasted by visiting Wheelock College, 100-86, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) battle at Picknelly Arena Saturday afternoon. The Blazers dip to 1-7 overall, and 1-2 in the NECC, while Wheelock moves to 2-0 in conference play, and 4-5 on the season.
The Blazers posted the first points of the game on their opening possession as senior Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.) buried a three-pointer from the top of the key. The Wildcats answered with a quick 10-0 spurt over the next three minutes, behind five points from senior Nicholas Fenton (East Hartford, Conn.), to capture a 10-3 lead. The Blazers whittled away at the gap with a 14-4 run spanning six minutes of play, capped off by as freshman Diomanni Fernandez (Tamarac, Fla.) jarred a three-pointer from the corner to put Elms ahead 17-14 with 11:07 remaining. The sides exchanged the lead five times over the next five minutes as treys from Elms freshman DeAngelo Cousar (Bowie, Md.) sandwiched three-pointers from Fenton and senior Derek Fournier (Johnston, R.I.) to tie the game at 29-29. The Wildcats regained control with a 12-3 run, powered by nine points from Fenton, to take a 41-32 advantage. A layup from Elms senior Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.) closed the gap to 43-39, but the Wildcats wrapped the half with a 6-3 run to take a 49-42 lead into the break.
The Blazers opened the second half with seven straight points to erase the deficit and even the game at 49-49. Knotted at 51-51, the Wildcats grabbed control with an 11-4 run, behind five-point efforts by Fenton and Williams. The Blazers continued to work at the deficit and a three-point play from Smith at the 11:46 mark closed the advantage to 64-63. Wheelock pulled away again with a 9-0 run, featuring three straight buckets from Fenton, to push the lead to 73-63. With 2:44 to play, Smith drove the lane and dished a pass to Cousar on the block for a layup to make it a one possession game, 83-80. Wheelock closed the door on Elms with a 12-1 run in the final minutes, featuring seven points from senior Matthew Eason (East Hartford, Conn.), to walk away with the 100-86 win.
The Blazers had five players reach double-digit point totals, paced by 22-point efforts by Smith and Bish. Smith added a team-high six assists, while Bish had three rebounds and three steals along with a new career-high in points. Ihearahu logged his third straight double-double with 18 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Cousar tallied 14 points and five rebounds, and Fernandez netted 10 points with four rebounds off the bench.
Fenton exploded for a career-high 47 points, shooting 19-of-25 from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range, with a game-high nine assists and nine rebounds. Williams registered 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Fournier contributed 18 points and three rebounds in the win.
The Wildcats edged the Blazers on the glass, 39-35, while the Elms won the battle in the paint, 42-40. The Blazers connected on 45.8% (33-of-72) from the field, including 37% (10-of-27) from three-point range, and 58.8% (10-of-17) form the free throw line. Wheelock shot 55.4% (36-of-65) from the floor, 50% (10-of-20) from three-point, and 72% (18-of-25) from the foul line.
The Blazers will return to action after the holiday break with a non-conference road trip to Plymouth State on January 3rd at 7:00 p.m. Wheelock travels to New Hampshire for a non-conference tip January 2nd at 7:00 p.m.