Worcester State Drops Season Opener To Nichols 70-69
Dudley, MA --- The Nichols men's basketball team opened the 2011-12 season in dramatic fashion with a last-second 70-69 victory over visiting Worcester State this evening in the Nichols College Athletic Center.
Trailing the Lancers by one point with three seconds left on the clock, junior Justin Kuntz (Wallingford, CT) was awarded the game-winning basket after Lancers' freshman Charles Gunter (Boston, MA/New Mission) was whistled for goaltending.
The Bison held a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the game, but Worcester State chipped away at it with an 11-2 run led by five points from second-year Robert Hunter (St. Louis, MO).
Sophomore Ryan Sheehan (North Attleboro, MA) swished a long-range first three-pointer from Kuntz to give the Bison the edge, 68-65 with a minute remaining.
Senior Frank Stephenson (Fall River, MA) put back a second-chancer to bring the Lancers within one on their next possession and made fast work of a junior Monte Goodwin (Boston, MA/Belmont) block and defensive board to lay-in the go-ahead point with eight seconds left on the clock.
Nichols took a time out and inbounded the ball to Kuntz, who drove the length of the floor and split two Lancer defenders before laying up the ball at the right corner of the backboard. Gittens was there for the stop, but found himself whistled for goaltending as the Bison were awarded the game-winning basket.
The first half featured a combined 21 turnovers as both teams adapted to the fast flow of the game. Nichols led by as many as eight in the first half, but like in the second, saw the lead quickly chipped away by the Lancers and held onto a one-point advantage at the break after junior Kyle Ferreira (Westport, MA) sank a trey to bring Worcester State back into it (42-41).
The game stalled out at a 49-49 score early in the second half after second-year Sam Horning (Falmouth, ME) hit a three-pointer from Kuntz to tie it up. It wasn't until over three minutes later that the next basket was scored, a baseline trey from the Bison freshman Marlon Bennett (Stratford, CT).
Stephenson led the Lancers with 23 points, finishing just shy of a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds – all defensive. Ferreira added 13 points while Hunter sank 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Nichols used its deep bench to see five players in double-digit scoring, paced by Sheehan who had 14. Kuntz added 13 and six assists, while Bennett scored 13 on 6-of-8 shooting in his collegiate debut. Senior Mike Salis (Nashua, NH) dished a game-high eight assists.
The Bison are back in action on Thursday in a 7 PM game at Lasell. Worcester State takes on hosting Warriors on Friday at 5:30 at the Eastern Connecticut Tournament.