MIAMI SHORES– The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team forced Carthage College into three turnovers and six missed shots over the final four minutes while scoring the final ten points to post a 78-71 non-conference win Monday afternoon at the Miami Shootout at the Health and Sports Center on the campus of Barry University.
Trailing by nine points five minutes into the second half, Eastern (7-2) ran off eight straight to cut the gap to one with 14 minutes left, and later ripped off the final ten points of the game to win its fifth game this year in seven contests away from home. Carthage (5-6) had edged Eastern, 61-58, in the only previous meeting between the programs five years ago in Orlando.
After senior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) rolled in a pair of free throws to cut Carthage's (5-6) lead to one, 71-70, with 4:27 left, junior guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) scored from inside off senior Donny Craig's (Waterford) rebound of a missed Carthage three-pointer to give the Warriors the lead for good, 72-71 with just under four minutes left.
While the Redmen were completely unproductive on their final nine possessions, the Warriors got consecutive baskets from sophomore guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) – who had just entered the game – to make it 76-71 with two minutes left, and Gonzalez iced it when he rebounded a Carthage missed three-pointer and connected on the other end with 33 seconds left.
Carthage had moved out to a substantial 11-point lead, 31-20, with a run of eight straight points with eight minutes left in the first half – six of the points on consecutive three-point field goals by Jordon Kedrowski and TJ Best. Coming out of a 30 second timeout, however, the Warriors answered with nine points of their own to spark a 14-5 run over three minutes and get them back to within a pair, 36-34 and force a Redman timeout with five minutes left in the half.
The first 12 points during the 14-5 streak came on two three-point field goals each from Gonzalez and Muckle, with Muckle's inside bucket capping the burst five minutes before the end of the half.
Although nearly half of Eastern's points in the game came on 12 three-point field goals, the Warriors did not score beyond the arc during their final ten-point run of the game. Its last three-point came when senior guard Jaysen Nunez (Hartford) drilled one from long range – his only three-pointer of the game – to pull Eastern to within one, 69-68, with five minutes left.
Muckle topped all players with a career-high 28 points – 15 of them coming on three-point field goals and 17 when the Warriors outscored the Redmen by ten in the second half.
Gonzalez netted 23 points (four three-pointers) – his highest total since the season-opener. Junior guard Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Gonzalez had six assists and four steals, and Muckle pulled down six rebounds . In just 18 minutes off the bench, Craig shared game-high rebounding honors with Hyatt, each grabbing seven. Freshman forward Seth Thomas (Norwich) added six points, four rebounds and four steals in 28 minutes.
Kedrowski improved his season average with a team-high 20 points for Carthage, with team scoring leader Kienan Baltimore being held seven points under his season average, with 14 points.
Eastern faces Widener University Tuesday at noon at Barry in the first meeting between the programs in 18 years. In the only previous encounter, Eastern prevailed, 74-73, in the title game of the Eastern Tip-Off Tournament at Geissler Gym.