WESTON, Mass. – The Regis College men's basketball team ended their 2015-16 regular season with a 68-61 senior night victory over New England Collegiate Conference opponent Wheelock College on Thursday evening. Regis finishes the year with an 11-14, 8-8 NECC mark and the loss drops the Wildcats to 5-18, 3-12 NECC.
In a pregame ceremony, the men's team honored their five seniors Hector Heredia (Lawrence, Mass.), Chris Keaton (Beverly, Mass.), Biruk Legesse (Shorewood, Wis.), Jordan Monts (Springfield, Mass.) and Jeff Tagger Jr. (Brockton, Mass.) for their contributions to the college and its athletic department. All five seniors earned the start during the special night.
Tagger Jr. came to play with his family watching as he racked up a team-high 18 points on 6-of-9 (66.7%) shooting, along with four rebounds and four assists. The senior guard also set the single game steals record in the process with eight thefts; breaking the previous record of seven set by Darrin Kelley on January 28, 2010 against the University of New England and later matched by Carlos Bermudez on November 17, 2012 against Hartwick and Tagger Jr., himself last season versus Emerson.
Wildcat junior forward Anthony Williams (White Plains, N.Y.) led all scorers with 20 points while also snagging five rebounds and dishing out four helpers.
Regis opened the contest with Chris Keaton firing a three pointer off a screen to take a 3-2 lead after a layup underneath from Devin Brown (Chicago, Ill.). After a Brown jumper, Tagger Jr. found Legesse, who received his first career start; beyond the three-point line and the senior swished home the three ball to regain the lead for the Pride.
The teams exchanged points back and forth before a Tagger Jr. three pointer off a steal and assist from Monts opened up a four point advantage for the hosts with 10:51 to go in the stanza. Wheelock answered with six straight points with two buckets from Anthony Williams and one by Dejuan Rodriguez (New Britain, Conn.) which put the Wildcats up 19-17 and forced the Pride to take a 30 second timeout.
After the stoppage Regis raced out to an 11 point, 30-19 lead with a 13-0 run spearheaded by nine total points from junior forward Sam Jean-Gilles (Melrose, Mass.) including seven straight markers and four from freshman forward Ademola Afonja (Staten Island, N.Y.) who slammed home a Monts missed layup which electrified the Higgins Court crowd.
A Joe Reedy (Orlando, Fla.) layup with 26 ticks left on the clock were the last points of the half as the hosts headed into the intermission with a 34-25 lead over the visitors.
Two freebies from Wheelock's Dejuan Rodriguez cut the Regis lead to six, 40-34 with 15:43 to go, but the Crimson and Gold rallied with a 12-2 run which gave the Pride a 16 point lead, their largest of the contest, 52-36 with 10:17 left to play.
Wheelock remained in the contest as they stormed back with a 10-0 run thanks to back to back threes from junior guard Derek Fournier (Johnston, R.I.) to cut the deficit to six, 56-50 with 6:18 to go. The Pride remained calm and on the next trip down the floor, Chris Leak Jr. (New Haven, Conn.) converted a jumper from the high post to make it a three possession game. Both squads traded baskets throughout the remaining minutes and eventually the Wildcats were forced to foul the Pride and send them to the line. Regis then converted a few free throws which iced the game.
Reigning NECC Rookie of the Week Ademola Afonja recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-best 10 rebounds. Sam Jean-Gilles chipped in 11 points while Chris Leak Jr. added nine points and six caroms.
Devin Brown was the only other player in double-figures for the Wildcats with 11 markers and Dejuan Rodriguez added eight points and six boards.