Senior Marcos Echevarria netted a game-high 30 points to propel the No. 16 Nichols College men's basketball team to a 79-73 win over Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic at Blake Arena.
Junior DeAnte Bruton added 19 points but struggled from the field (6-of-15) while classmate Jerome Cunningham added 11 points and sophomore Matt Morrow collected eight points, 10 boards, and four dimes. The Bison overcame a halftime deficit by shooting 52 percent over the final 20 minutes and sank 15-of-18 from the charity stripe during that span.
For the Warriors (8-3), junior Carlos Gonzalez totaled 29 points, six boards, four assists, and three steals. Classmate Jake Collagen chipped in with 17 points and sophomore Cory Muckle registered 15 points for a squad that shot 51 percent for the game (27-of-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 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 maintained 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 its 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, sophomore Nate Tenaglia drilled a critical corner three to give the Bison the cushion they needed to secure the win.
Three things you need to know...
-Today's game marked the 25th all-time meeting between Nichols College and Eastern Connecticut State University. With the win, the Bison snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Warriors, who lead the series 18-7. The win was the first by Nichols since an 87-78 overtime triumph on February 17, 1971.
-With today's win, the Bison moved to 10-0 on the season – the best start in program history.
-Echevarria is now six points shy of tying the all-time scoring mark at Nichols, held by Ryan Sheehan (2010-14), who scored 2,106 points during his time in Dudley.
"Today was a grind. Our defense kept us alive in the first half when our offense was sluggish. We played with better pace in the second half and Marcos sparked us with a very special performance. He had a tough 30 points." –Nichols head coach Scott Faucher
Sunday, December 30 vs Salisbury @ Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic
Contributions to recap from Springfield Sports Information Department