SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Senior guard Mike Booker (Springfield, MA) scored the go-ahead basket with 13.7 seconds remaining and junior forward Brad Thomka (Springfield, MA) came up with three key plays in the final seconds as Western New England College rallied for a 58-56 victory over Union (N.Y.) in men’s basketball action Saturday (Dec. 12) at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
The win gave the Golden Bears' a three-game winning streak and a 4-5 record heading into the semester break.
Union led 56-51 with 2:26 remaining before WNEC scored the final seven points of the contest.
Sophomore guard Andre Shaw (Jamaica, NY) made two baskets on a jumper and lay-up to get the Golden Bears within 56-55 at the 1:22 mark.
The Dutchmen (3-4) committed two turnovers on their next two possessions, the final one leading to Booker’s winning basket that came with an assist from senior guard Rick Johnson (Springfield, MA).
Union had a chance for the win, but junior guard Drew Goldstein (Philadelphia, PA) missed a jumper that Thomka rebounded with 2.4 seconds left. He made one-of-two free throws and then stole the inbounds pass.
It was a back-and-forth game the entire way as Union came back from an eight-point deficit to take a one-point lead (34-33) at intermission.
Western New England College went ahead 43-42 on Johnson’s jumper with 13:12 remaining before Union went on an 11-2 run to take their biggest lead at 53-45 following a lay-up by sophomore forward Rusmir Dzanko (Essex Junction, VT) with 6:57 remaining. The Dutchmen managed only three points the rest of the way.
Shaw led Western New England College with 15 points coming off the bench while Thomka netted 13 points with a game-high 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Johnson added nine points, a game best six assists, and four rebounds.
Dzanko led the visitors with 19 points (seven-of-13 from the field) and seven rebounds.
Goldstein (12 points) and senior guard Joey Lokitis (Norton, MA) (10 points) were the other players in double figures. Lokitis also pulled down seven rebounds before fouling out. Goldstein chipped-in with a game high seven steals, six rebounds, and three steals.
Western New England College shot 44.0% from the field while Union connected on only 32.3% of its field-goal attempts.
The Golden Bears made only 8-of-17 free throw attempts (47.1%), Union 10-of-15 (66.7%). The Dutchmen also held a 42-34 advantage off the boards.