Golden Bears Give Defending CCC Champion Curry a Scare in 68-61 Loss

Golden Bears Give Defending CCC Champion Curry a Scare in 68-61 Loss
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Seniors Dennis Rinaldi and Kevin Wilkes led the way for the Western New England men's basketball team with a double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds and 14 points off the bench, respectively, but it wasn't enough for the hosts to knock off defending Commonwealth Coast Conference champion Curry in a 68-61 loss at the Alumni Healthful Living Center field house on Wednesday. But the Golden Bears (2-5 overall, 0-1 CCC) did put a scare into one of the favorites to vie for the conference title in 2013-14.

The Colonels, who won their first game in five starts, got a game-high 26 points from Carlos Ribeiro, who was 9 of 18 from the field including five 3-pointers. Antonio Jones and Kenneth Ramos chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively, both off the bench.

The Golden Bears enjoyed a 41-32 edge on the glass that enabled them to outscore Curry 26-7 on second-chance points and a slim advantage with points in the paint, 28-26. Thomas McLean led the Colonels with 12 rebounds.

Western New England came out of the gate strong by taking a 26-20 lead on a Wilkes lay-up midway through the first half. The Golden Bears trailed by only one at half, 38-37, after junior Musa Elsir nailed a trey from the right wing on a skip pass from sophomore Zack Askew (6 points, 3 rebounds).

"Our offense was not spectacular, but it was consistent throughout the first half," WNE coach Mike Theulen pointed out.

"We played well in spurts, but didn't keep it consistent during the whole game," added Elsir, who had 10 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes.

An 8-minute dry spell in the second half halted the Golden Bear attack, allowing Curry to build as much as a 14-point lead at 63-49 with 4 minutes and 26 seconds left.
Although the second half was rough for the Golden Bears, they showed a little energy with a minute to go by coming up with a few steals and good possessions, but it just wasn't enough to overcome Curry. Rinaldi and Wilkes keyed a 12-3 run with six points each to get WNE within 66-61 at the 1:25 mark.
The Golden Bears will be traveling to the University of New England in another CCC match-up for their next contest on Saturday.