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Nationally-Ranked Nichols and Salisbury Advance in Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic

Nationally-Ranked Nichols and Salisbury Advance in Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic

Springfield, Mass. - December 29, 2018 - The Springfield College men's basketball team put together a spirited second-half rally but was defeated by nationally-ranked Salisbury, 82-63, in the 32nd Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic on Saturday afternoon in Blake Arena.

Springfield will face Eastern Connecticut State on Sunday afternoon in the consolation of the Classic as it dropped to to 3-7 on the season.  The Gulls, ranked 22nd in the country in the last National Poll, improved to 10-1 with the victory.

Jake Ross (Northampton, Mass.) paced the Pride with 21 points and became the 11th player in program history to reach the 1,500 career-point milestone, while Heath Post (Cheshire, Conn.) chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds.   Deonte Sandifer (Pittsfield, Mass.) netted a career-high nine points and registered three steals.  Springfield shot just 17-for-49 (34.7%) for the game, but was 23-of-31 from the charity stripe.  

Salisbury owned a 37-22 edge on the glass for the game and shot an impressive 32-for-55 (58%).  Mike Ward (Woodstock, Md.) came off the bench to net to score a game-high 22 points, including 19 in the first half. Gary Briddell (Salisbury, Md.) tallied 16 points, Lucas Martin (Broadlands, Va.) added 15 points and five boards, Blair Davis (Baltimore, Md.) handed out eight assists, and Johnny Fierstein (North Potomac, Md.) notched 10 points and five boards.  Salisbury's bench accounted for 50 of their 63 points. 

Salisbury opened up a 15-6 edge just over five minutes into the contest on a triple from the right wing by Martin as the Pride whistled for an early timeout.   Springfield would pull within 18-11 after Ross knocked down a triple, but the Gulls responded with seven-straight points, as Ward pulled up for a three-pointer just under nine minutes into the stanza to make it a 25-11 contest.  Salisbury would hit 15 of their first 22 shots, and an inside bucket by Martin at the 6:01 mark pushed the visitors advantage to 39-18.  Salisbury would lead by as many as 22 points and take a 53-33 lead into the break as they connected on 67% of their shots, including 11-of-15 from beyond the arc.

After a three-point play Ross capped off a 7-0 push by the Pride to pull Springfield within 57-43 at the 14:39 mark of the second half, Post cashed in a triple of his own 90 seconds later to make it a 13-point contest.  Springfield would continue to chip away at the lead, and a pair of free throws from Post with 4:40 left in regulation brought the score to 69-61 in favor of Salisbury.  However, out of the ensuing timeout, Salisbury answered with a three-point play by Fierstein to jumpstart and 13-0 run over a 2:43 span to seal the game.  Both Fierstein and Bridell each had five points in the burst to help the visitors pull away for the 82-63 triumph. 


No. 16 Nichols 79, Eastern Connecticut 73

Springfield, Mass. - The Nichols College men's basketball team remained undefeated on the year as they hung on for a 79-73 victory over Eastern Connecticut State in the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic on Saturday afternoon in Springfield College's Blake Arena.

Marcos Echevarria led all players with 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 7-of-13 from deep, to pace the Bison to their 10th win of the season.  Nichols, who was ranked 16th in the latest National Poll, also received 19 points from DeAnte Bruton, 11 points from Jerome Cunningham, and eight points, 10 boards, and four assists from Matt Morrow.  Nichols shot 27-for-58 (47%) and turned 11 offensive boards into 11 second-chance points.

For Eastern Connecticut, which dropped to 8-3 with the loss, Carlos Gonzalez totaled 29 points, six boards, four assists, and three steals.  Jake Collagen chipped in 17 points, and Cory Muckle registered 15 points for a squad that shot 51% from the floor for the game (27-for-58).

The Warriors surged out to a 23-9 lead at the 10:42 mark of the opening half as Gonzalez buried a triple to cap off a 9-0 burst that spanned just over three minutes.  However, Echevarria put the Bison on his back as he pumped in 17 points over the final 9:30 of the stanza, with his fifth three-pointer of the half knotting the contest at 34-all with 57 seconds remaining.  A pair of free throws from ECSU's Donny Craig concluded the first-half scoring and the Warriors took a two-point lead into the locker room.  

An acrobatic three-point play from Echevarria just over six minutes into the second half allowed the Bison to earn a 51-45 lead, a cushion they would maintain until ECSU manufactured a 7-2 run that was capitalized by a deep triple from Gonzalez at 9:20 to even the score at 58.  After Nichols again pushed their advantage to four at 67-63 on a Bruton finish in transition with 5:39 remaining, Eastern Connecticut made one final push to get within 67-66 following a free throw from Seth Thomas.  However, the next time down the floor, Nate Tenaglia drilled a critical corner three to give the Bison the cushion they would need en route to the 79-73 win.