BRISTOL, R.I. – A thrilling comeback by the Roger Williams University Men's Basketball team fell just short in The Commonwealth Coast Conference Quarterfinal Round, with sixth-seeded Endicott College emerging with a 71-68 win Tuesday evening in overtime.
Roger Williams struggled early on and trailed nearly the entire game. The Hawks missed their first nine shots from the field and did not score for the first six minutes of the contest. Conversely, the Gulls jumped out to an 11-0 lead over that stretch, hitting five of their first seven attempts.
Over the rest of the half, the Gulls maintained a lead of at least six thanks to strong play in the paint and crashing the boards. Endicott blocked five shots in the first half and outrebounded Roger Williams 24-14, including 9-to-1 on the offensive end. The end result was a 36-28 advantage going into the break.
In the second half, Erik Callo (Southington, Conn.) and Aaron Karkow (Uncasville, Conn.) started things off with a pair of baskets to give Endicott its largest lead of the game in the opening two minutes (40-28).
Yet the Hawks would begin their comeback from that point, mounting an 18-6 run on a three-point play by Pat Flanagan (Somerville, Mass.) to tie the game at 46 with under 13 minutes to play.
A leaning jumper by Tom Rafael (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) from the top of the key gave the Hawks their first lead of the game (52-51) with nine minutes to play. The basket started a trend of two ties and two lead changes up until the final minute when the drama unfolded.
Holding a 64-61 lead, with 51 seconds to play, the Gulls attempted to run down the clock and get a shot off, but a heads-up defensive play by Travis O'Dell (Brunswick, Maine) forced a potential three-point attempt by Lachlan Magee (Melbourne, Australia) into an awkward pass and a shot clock violation with 15.2 seconds left.
On the following Hawk possession Corey Fava (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) came down a pulled up for the game-tying three pointer from the elbow. The shot fell short, but the Gulls were called for the foul, giving Fava a chance to tie the game from the free throw line. He calmly sank all three shots to knot the contest at 64 with 5.7 seconds left.
The Hawks committed a pair of fouls to disrupt the Gulls offensive possession until the ball was inbounded with just over three seconds to play. The fouls ended up being crucial, as a the game-winning pull-up jumper by Tyler Burkhart (Cromwell, Conn.) from the right side was waved off as he did not get it off in time, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, Callo dropped in a short jumper on Endicott's first possession to regain the lead. The Gulls would hold on to the advantage despite Roger Williams' attempts to get over the hump. Rafael sank a pair of free throws with 1:04 left to make it a one-point game (68-69), while a missed Gull basket gave RWU one more chance to go ahead.
With 23 seconds to play, Taylor Petruccelli (Stratford, Conn.) drove hard to the basket, splitting a pair of defenders and drawing contact in his layup attempt. Unfortunately for him, the shot would not go down, with Lance Greene (Dorchester, Mass.) grabbing the rebound and knocking down two free throw to put Endicott back up by three. On the Hawks' final possession, Fava found himself with a chance to tie the game again with a three pointer, but couldn't find the bottom of the net. Karkow grabbed the rebound and sealed the win for Endicott.
Greene scored 19 points with five assists for Endicott, while Callo and Burkhart added 12 and 11 respectively. Callo also went for seven rebounds and a game-high five blocks. Magee nearly notched a double-double, finishing with eight points and 11 rebounds.
The Hawks got career scoring games from Flanagan and Rafael, as Flanagan finished with 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting and Rafael scoring 18 points including a 4-of-4 performance from behind the arc. Fava added seven points and nine assists, while Petruccelli went for six points and seven rebounds.
Endicott (17-9 8-5 TCCC) travels to the #2 seed Wentworth Institute of Technology on Thursday for a 7:00 p.m. TCCC Semifinal matchup. Roger Williams University concludes the season with a 17-9 overall record.