SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – By his own admission, Western New England College senior forward Jim Bayne (Bristol, CT) is only about 60% back from a foot injury he suffered in the season opener against Rhode Island College back on November 16.
Bayne, who missed seven games before returning last week, scored a season high 21 points as the Golden Bears rallied for a 64-60 victory against visiting Curry College in The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) men's basketball opener for both teams Saturday afternoon (Jan. 12) at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
Bayne scored 17 of his points in the second half as the Golden Bears fought back from a 36-31 half-time deficit. The 6'4" team captain made 8-of-15 shots from the field, pulled down eight rebounds, and made all five free throw attempts, including two in the final 3.5 seconds as WNEC won for the fourth time in its last five outings. Bayne had scored only 22 points in three previous games this month.
Junior guard Matt Maynard (Paterson, NJ) also played a key role contributing 11 points, including a clutch three-pointer that gave Western New England College a 62-58 lead with 1:33 left in the contest.
Curry got within two at 62-60 when 6’10” senior center Johnathan Bowers (Kalamazoo, MI) hit a baseline jumper with 20.6 seconds remaining. He finished with a game high 22 points, going 9-for-16 from the floor despite playing most of the game in foul trouble.
The Colonels (4-9) held a 24-11 lead at the 11:19 mark of the opening half before Bowers went to the bench for the remainder of the half with his third foul at the 4:47 juncture.
Western New England College (7-5) finally tied the game at 38-38 on a three-point play by sophomore guard Chris DeVine (Wilbraham, MA) just 1:45 into the second stanza. The Golden Bears took their biggest lead at 44-39 following a Bayne jumper with 15:19 left in the game.
The Colonels answered with an 8-0 run for a 47-44 advantage when senior forward Marvin Lamarre (Hyde Park, MA) made a lay-up with 12:46 remaining.
There were three ties and four lead changes down the stretch before Bowers put Curry ahead 58-55 with a thunderous dunk at the 6:24 mark. The Golden Bears then scored seven straight points capped by Maynard’s trey.
The visitors didn’t score again until Bowers hit a jumper to make it 62-60 with 20.6 seconds left.
Junior forward Kyle Fredette (Wallingford, VT) chipped-in with eight points and 14 rebounds for the Golden Bears. He also had an important blocked shot and offensive rebound in the final two minutes. Senior guard Asif Abdul-Wadud (Springfield, MA) ran the offense and had seven points along with four assists.
Curry senior guard Tim Jones (Brookline, MA) had solid game with 18 points while senior guard James Bartelle (Washington, DC) added nine points coming off the bench.
The Colonels outscored the Golden Bears from the field 23-22, but WNEC converted 15-of-19 free throws while Curry made only 5-of-10 charity shots. Western New England College also held a 40-31 advantage off the boards and committed only seven turnovers in the game.