Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's basketball squad held off visiting Daniel Webster College, 78-70, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) clash at Picknelly Arena Tuesday night. With the win, the Blazers move to 2-13 overall, and 2-6 in the NECC, while Daniel Webster sits at 4-3 in conference play, and 10-6 on the season.
A back-and-forth first half of action featured nine lead changes and six tied scoreboards. Daniel Webster used jumpers from freshman Mikol Blake Green (Boston, Mass.) and junior Marquise Caudill (Windsor, Conn.) to grab an early lead, but Elms responded with five straight points from senior Trifon Bish (St. Catherine, Jamaica) to pull ahead, 5-4. The Eagles regained the lead and a three-pointer from senior Michael Campbell (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) put DWC up 15-12, but Elms senior Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.) answered with a trey at the opposite end of the floor to knot the game at 15-15. Daniel Webster used a 9-2 run, featuring four points from senior Ray Farmer (Nashua, N.H.), over the next six minutes to harness a 24-17 lead. Elms freshman Spencer Douglas (Hollywood, Fla.) knocked down back-to-back trey to cut the deficit to 24-23, followed by a three-pointer from Bish to give Elms a 28-25 lead. The lead changed hands five times over the final three minutes and a buzzer-beating trey from Elms freshman Diomanni Fernandez (Tamarac, Fla.) handed the Blazers a 35-31 lead at the half.
The Blazers offense kicked into gear early in the second half with consecutive treys from Smith at the 15:56 mark capped a 16-7 run for Elms in the opening four minutes. Elms maintained a double-digit lead over the next five minutes with a three-pointer from Smith handing the Blazers their largest lead of the contest, 63-48, with 10:55 to play. The Eagles mounted a comeback attempt, whittling away the gap behind a 15-7 run, paced by eight points from senior Angelo Adon (Silver Spring, Md.), to close the Elms advantage to 67-63 at the 4:53 mark. Daniel Webster came within two possessions of the lead down the stretch, but four straight free throws from Bish locked up the 78-70 victory.
"It was a great team effort tonight," said Elms Head Coach Rob Southall. "We did a great job or sharing the basketball, finding the open man, and trusting each other. I thought we came out with great effort and energy, Dimitri [Tessier] really set the tone, he has provided a spark of the defensive end that allowed us to get some transition baskets. We did a good job of keeping our composure when things got close, buckling down and get some huge buckets to stop [Daniel Webster's] momentum. Trifon had a great day, and whenever he plays great, we play great, he does a lot of things for us, and we hope he keeps having nights like these. Mitchell will be another tough test on Saturday, the second time you play a team in conference, they are a little more prepared for you. [Mitchell] has some new players too, so I think it's going to be a battle and we're looking forward to it."
Bish powered the Blazers attack, matching a career-high with 22 points with three assists and two rebounds. Smith netted 19 points, connecting on five three-pointers, with a game-high six assists, six rebounds and three steals. Ihearahu registered his seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Cousar had nine points and six rebounds, while Fernandez added seven points and five rebounds off the bench.
Daniel Webster had 11 players in the scoresheet, led by 14 point efforts from Caudill and sophomore Jared Harrington (Upper Marlboro, Md.). Caudill shot 6-of-12 from the field with four rebounds, while Harrington connected on 6-of-9 attempts with nine rebounds. Adon recorded 10 points off the bench, and Farmer logged eight points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
The Eagles edged the Blazers on the glass, 41-32, and controlled points in the paint, 40-20. Elms converted 47.5% (28-of-59) from the field, including 46.4% (13-of-28) from three-point range, and 81.8% (9-of-11) from the foul line. The Eagles shot 45.5% (30-of-66) from the floor, 33.3% (5-of-15) from three-point, and 50% (5-of-10) from the charity stripe.
The Blazers will look to remain in the win column when they host Mitchell College in NECC action at Picknelly Arena Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Daniel Webster makes an NECC road trip to Regis College Saturday at 3:00 p.m.