Men's Basketball: Eagles Fall Just Short At Mitchell In NECC Opener
NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Mitchell College men's basketball team erased a four-point halftime deficit and held on for a 62-60 victory against Daniel Webster College on Tuesday night at the Yarnall Athletic Center in the New England Collegiate Conference opener for each school.
Sophomore Joshua Ford (Jersey City, N.J./Saint Anthony) scored 14 points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds to pace the Mariners (3-4 overall, 1-0 NECC). He also added six assists, three steals and a block and made a number of big plays on the night. Seniors Paul Jefferson (Waterbury, Conn./Waterbury Arts Magnet School) and Alex Vess (Middletown, Conn./Xavier) chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively, as Mitchell won its first NECC game since 2010.
Daniel Webster's John Hickson (Springfield, Mass./Cathedral) led all scorers with 19 points and was 4-for-9 from three-point range. Eric Suarez (Brooklyn, N.Y./Roosevelt) added a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards while Daris Cosby (Columbia, S.C./Richland Northeast) finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Vess and sophomore Alex Del Rio (New Britain, Conn./Plainville) set the tone early for the Mariners. Vess was a force on the defensive glass while Del Rio piled up six of his game-high seven assists in the opening 10 minutes of the contest. The Mariners took their largest lead at 26-19 on a lay-up by freshman Michael Pellegrini (Middletown, Conn./Middletown) with 9:53 to play, but the offense struggled for the remainder of the half.
The Eagles climbed back into the game and took a 30-29 lead on a jumper by Suarez with 3:59 to go in the half. Daniel Webster extended the lead to as many as five and clung to a 36-32 margin at the break. The Mariners shot just 2-for-10 to end the half but stayed in the game behind a solid effort from their bench, which outscored the Eagles 16-1 over the first 20 minutes.
Mitchell reclaimed the lead early in the second half on a four-point play by Jefferson and held it for the majority of the stanza. The Mariners took their biggest lead of the half at 59-54 with 4:48 to go on a layup by Ford, but the Eagles answered right back. Cosby drilled a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two, and on the following possession he was fouled on another long-range attempt. He drilled all three free throws to give Daniel Webster a 60-59 lead with 3:47 remaining.
Mitchell took the lead for good on a jumper by Vess with 2:42 to play and held on in the late stages. Ford added a free throw with 20 ticks left to make it a two-point game and had a chance to ice it with nine seconds left, but he missed the front end of one-and-one. The Eagles pulled down the rebound and had a chance to win at the buzzer, but a three-pointer by Keith Speed (Columbus, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) was off the mark.
Mitchell will next play at Southern Vermont College on Saturday, December 10 at 3 p.m. Daniel Webster returns to action at Wheelock College on Saturday at noon.