CHICOPEE, Mass. – No. 5 Regis College forced overtime, but came up short against No. 1 seed Elms College, 81-71, in Friday evening's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship tournament semifinal men's basketball game at Picknelly Arena.
With the win, Elms improves to 15-11 overall and advances to its sixth consecutive NECC tournament title game. The Blazers will square off against No. 2 Mitchell College, who advanced to its first league tournament title game following its 87-78 victory over No. 3 Becker College in the other semifinal contest. Regis concludes its season 11-15 overall.
Trailing by 12 following a strike from long distance by Jordan Monts (Springfield, Mass.) that gave Regis a 54-42 lead with 7:48 to play in regulation, Elms began to chip away as senior forward Isaiah Odunlami (Providence, R.I.) sparked the rally with a pair of free throws and a layup.
Derek Murphy (Columbia, Md.) connected for two more three-pointers, and had six in the game, to pull the Blazers to within three at 59-56 with 4:23 to play and then drained another at the 3:07 mark to knot the game at 59-59. The Pride regained the lead when Ethan Peana (Staten Island, N.Y.) made a layup and converted the ensuing free throw after being fouled on the play to give Regis a three-point edge with 2:33 on the clock.
Elms' guard Andre French (Torrington, Conn.) made a pair of free throws and Odunlami delivered on a layup and free throw to give the Blazers a 64-62 lead with 1:36 remaining. Junior forward Kenny Lockett (Atlanta, Ga.) chipped in a pair of foul shots to extend the cushion to four (66-62) before Osanto Marc Jr. (Kissimmee, Fla.) drilled a pair of free throws to pull Regis back to within two at 66-64 with 1:09 to play.
Two Lockett free throws and a Marc bucket in the paint set the score at 68-66 with 14 ticks on the clock before Odunlami put Elms ahead by three after hitting the back end of two free throws to set the score at 69-66 with nine seconds in regulation.
With four seconds left, Regis's Ryan Chambers (Abington, Mass.) launched a deep three-pointer that swished through the nylon to set the score at 69-69 and force an overtime period.
In the extra frame, Elms pulled away, outscoring the Pride, 12-2 on the strength of four points by Lockett, three from freshman forward Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.), two each from French and Odunlami and one from Murphy to close out the thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Murphy netted 26 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 from three-point range. He added five boards and three assists, while Lockett finished with 20 points and a game-best 10 rebounds. Lockett was also 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. Odunlami collected 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the floor and he and Ihearahu each totaled eight rebounds in the winning effort. French netted nine points on the strength of 5-for-5 shooting from the free throw line and he dished out four assists.
Marc led the Pride with 19 points on 7-of-20 shooting, while Sam Jean-Gilles (Melrose, Mass.) and Chambers finished with 12 and 11 points respectively. Peana, Monts and Ahmad Charles (Cambridge, Mass.) added nine points each in the losing effort, while Jean-Gilles pulled in a team-high 11 rebounds. Charles and Peana added eight boards each and Chambers handed out a game-high five assists.
Both teams shot 35.7-percent for the game and Regis held an advantage in rebounds (53-44) and points in the paint (36-32). Elms converted 23 Pride turnovers into 33 points and held a 33-16 edge in the category.
In the first half, the sides played to four tie scores and exchanged the lead seven times. Both teams held leads of no more than five points during the first period and Regis took a 30-25 lead into intermission.
Ryan Chambers was selected to the All-Tournament Team for his standout play in the NECC postseason.
Release courtesy of Elms College Sports Information