Golden Bears Nip Nichols in Overtime on the Road

Golden Bears Nip Nichols in Overtime on the Road
DUDLEY, Mass.--The Western New England University men's basketball team let a double-digit lead slip away in the first half and then fell behind by 7 in the second, but the Golden Bears fought back to earn an 88-85 overtime victory Saturday over Nichols in Commonwealth Coast Conference action at the Bison Athletics Center. Western New England improves to 2-3 overall and 2-0 in the CCC, while the Bison drop to 3-2 and 0-2 in the conference.

Junior Dennis Rinaldi, who posted season highs of 18 points and 15 rebounds, converted a lay-in for a 76-74 lead as the Golden Bears never trailed in the extra five-minute session. Justin Kuntz missed a 3-point attempt with 1 tick on the clock that could have forced a second overtime, but Rinaldi grabbed the defensive rebound to secure WNE's second straight win.

Ryan Sheehan led all scorers with 27 points to lead the Bison offense, which shot 48.5 percent from the field for the game and made 10 of 26 treys. Matt Langadas also scored in double digits with 13 points, Justin Kuntz added 12 and Jessy Michaud, 11.

Damon Alston, a senior co-captain, chipped in 16 points, junior Ryan Mickiewicz and sophomore Musa Elsir each had 10 points for Western New England, which led 33-29 at halftime.

The Golden Bears enjoyed the biggest lead of the game with 4 minutes remaining in the first half on back-to-back buckets by Alston, before the Bison closed with a 6-0 run to get within four points at the intermission. Western New England shot over 50 percent in the early going to get off to a good start.

In the second half, Nichols led by as many as seven points on a trey by Sheehan at the midway point, 58-51. After Western New England went on an 11-3 run to reclaim the lead, 63-62, the Bison responded with a 9-1 streak of its own to go back on top by 7 with 3 minutes and 22 seconds to go in regulation.

At the 1:27 mark and Nichols holding on to a 73-69 lead, Langadas had a chance to ice the game but he missed two free throws after being fouled by freshman Zack Askew (8 points, 11 rebounds).

But Mickiewicz sank a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left and Langadas made 1 of 2 free throws 11 seconds later as the teams ended regulation at 74-all. Mickiewicz tried to win it with 2 seconds to go but his jumper was off the mark.

Western New England shot 47.2 percent from the floor and won the glass with a season high 49 rebounds (to Nichols' 32) as well as 17 offensive, but a season-worst 20 turnovers--almost 10 above its 10.5 season-average--nearly led to its undoing.

Senior co-captain James Hock came off the bench to contribute eight points on 4-for-4 field goal shooting and six rebounds, and freshman DeWayne Wynn had nine points and four assists.

Langadas led the Bison with nine rebounds and five assists.