Endicott bound for CCC title game after 71-67 comeback win over Wentworth
BOSTON, Mass. – Trailing by 11 points with 7:01 remaining in their Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Semifinal game against Wentworth, the Endicott men's basketball rallied down the stretch to upset the Leopards 71-67 on the road and punched their ticket into the conference championship game for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
The CCC Tournament saw an exciting round of semifinal games on Thursday evening with the #3 seeded Gulls and top-seeded Salve Regina advancing into the championship game. Endicott and Salve Regina will play on Saturday, February 25th at 7:00 pm in Newport, Rhode Island with an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament on the line.
The Gulls started their late game comeback after a rainbow corner three-point attempt by junior Lance Greene (Dorchester, Mass.) found the bottom of the net and put the guard on the free throw line because of a Leopards foul. The four-point play quickly got Endicott back to within seven points with 6:48 remaining.
Greene's bucket started a 14-3 run by Endicott that included a three-pointer by freshman John Henault (Lunenburg, Mass.) and sophomore Tyler Burkhart (Cromwell, Conn.). Burkhart's make tied the game at 61-61 with 3:44 on the clock.
Endicott found their late-game offensive outburst from senior forward Erik Callo (Southington, Conn.) who scored six of the final 10 points for the Gulls on layups with assists to Burkhart and Lachlan Magee (Melbourne, Australia) and two free throws. Callo two free throws with 18 seconds put Endicott ahead by four at 70-66. After a Leopards foul with less than a second remaining on an Endicott inbound put Greene on the free throw line, the junior made the first and intentionally missed the second to run out the clock and end the game.
Greene finished tied with Wentworth junior guard Corey Therriault (Auburn, Maine) with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-9 from the floor including a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range. He grabbed seven rebounds, dished three assists and swiped three steals. Greene, who played with four fouls over the final 15 minutes of the game, had his first 20-point effort in a season in which he averages 12.7 points per game.
Callo, already with seven double-doubles this season in 15 previous games played, added another one with 12 points and 12 rebounds with four assists, two blocks and a steal.
Henault and Burkhart reached double figures as well with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Henault made his presence known defensively with three steals while Burkhart saw his open teammates for four assists. Burkhart also came up with a critical play in the waning moments of the game with what looked like a block on Leopards forward John-Michael Fragnoli (Scotia, N.Y.) with Wentworth down three with 20 seconds remaining.
For Wentworth, Therriault's 20 points came on 8-of-12 shooting including 3-of-6 from downtown. He scored 14 of his points in a dominating first half performance. The junior also forced four turnovers, grabbed four boards and dished two assists. Sophomore guard Derek Mayo (Casco, Maine) had 12 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals and both Eric Prue (Auburn, Maine) and Adam Dombrowski (Dunstable, Mass.) added 10 points each.
For the game, Endicott shot 50.0% (26-of-52) from the field, 50.0% (8-of-16) from three-point range, and 68.8% (11-of-16) at the charity stripe. Four of Endicott's five three-pointers came in the second half. Wentworth shot 41.3% (26-of-63) overall, 40.0% (8-of-20) from three and 70.0% (7-of-10) at the line.
The Gulls got 19 points off the bench, 10 from Burkhart, and held a slight edge (12-to-8) in fast break points.
Tonight's victory avenged a 71-68 overtime loss by Endicott to Wentworth in last year's CCC Semifinals. The Blue and Green will be playing in their six conference championship game in program history and their first since the 2005-06 season. Endicott is 5-for-5 in conference championship games.