UNE rallies to upset Wentworth in CCC tourney, 61-58

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Post-Game Interview

BOSTON -- Facing a 16-point deficit moments into the 2nd half, seventh-seeded University of New England battled back and edged in front with under six minutes to go before holding on for a 61-58 win over second-seeded Wentworth Institute of Technology in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Basketball Championship on Tuesday night (Feb. 23) at Tansey Gymnasium.

For the second straight year, the Nor'easters (14-12) went on the road to advance into the conference semifinals. UNE will head to Roger Williams University for that match on Thursday (7 p.m.), as the sixth-seeded Hawks pulled a 68-67 upset at Eastern Nazarene College. Interactive Bracket

After the Leopards (15-11) added a free throw to their 42-27 halftime cushion, Big Blue rattled off 13 unanswered points to get within striking distance (43-40). Blake Swanson got on the board with a three-pointer to cap the run at 15:24 mark, and scored the final of his nine points with 6:29 left on a layup that leveled the contest at 51-all.

A miss on the other end and Swanson setup Devin Thompson for the lead on the next possession.

The teams combined for just one point over the ensuing 4:25. UNE could not extend the lead, missing five shots with a turnover, but Wentworth failed to take advantage, coughing the ball up twice while missing three field goals and going 1-of-5 at the line.

CJ Autry broke the drought for the Nor'easters with 1:23 to go on two free throws (55-52), however WIT eventually (0:35) got those back on a lengthy trip that included three offensive boards.

A sideline trap left Drew Patno open for an easy hoop for the visitors to make it 57-54 -- one that was countered almost immediately by Cesar Fulcar with 16 ticks on the clock. Autry drained four more freebies around two by the Leopards (61-58), leaving 0:09 for the hosts to attempt a tie, but Wentworth threw it out-of-bounds as the time expired.

UNE's defense held WIT to a mere 15 percent shooting in the 2nd half, and 0-for-11 from deep. Meanwhile, Thompson, Swanson, and Autry registered 29 of the team's 34 points in the final 20 minutes.

Autry ended with a team-high 14 points, and Thompson chipped in with all of his 11 following the break. Evrim Ozkan had nine in the 1st half and was a third UNE player to reach double figures with 10 points. Gavin Dibble and Drew Coveneypicked up seven rebounds apiece; Coveney also had six assists before fouling out with two minutes remaining.

The Leopards were led by double-double from Ian Therriault, with 14 points and 13 caroms, helping the home squad log a 41-32 edge on the glass. Jason Ganley contributed 11 points and seven rebounds. Ben Kizel scored nine. Kyle Romich, who was among the league-leaders in CCC scoring during the year at 18.1 points/game, was limited to six.

In the opening frame, as Wentworth erased an early five-point UNE margin and then struck for a 15-2 run in the middle of the period to grab a 30-18 cushion. Kizel had eight in the stretch; Therriault and Ganley tallied 19 of their points during the initial stanza as well.

Both sides shot 48 percent from the floor in the 1st half, but the Leopards were aided by turning seven offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points.

The Nor'easters had dropped both regular-season meetings to Wentworth (59-57 home, 70-44 away), and the result snapped a 13-game skid against their CCC foe.