Golden Bears Top Southern Maine at Trinity Holiday Invitational, 81-72

Junior Mike McGuire scored a team-high 20 points and added a career-best 11 rebounds in Western New England's 81-72 win over Southern Maine at the Trinity Holiday Invitational on Sunday night. (Photo by Chris Marion)
Junior Mike McGuire scored a team-high 20 points and added a career-best 11 rebounds in Western New England's 81-72 win over Southern Maine at the Trinity Holiday Invitational on Sunday night. (Photo by Chris Marion)

McGuire leads WNE with team-high 20 points, career-high 11 boards

HARTFORD, Conn. (December 30, 2018) – The Western New England University men's basketball team used a strong finish to earn an 81-72 victory over the University of Southern Maine on Sunday night at Trinity College's Holiday Invitational.

The Golden Bears (3-7) will take on host Trinity in the championship game tomorrow at 2 p.m., after Southern Maine (3-7) plays Farleigh Dickinson-Florham in the consolation contest at noon.

Top Performers
Junior guard Mike McGuire (Garden City, N.Y.) powered Western New England with a team-high 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, to go with a 6-for-6 effort at the charity stripe. McGuire also collected a career-high 11 rebounds and recorded three assists.

Making his first career start, freshman guard Antonio Brancato (Fairfield, Conn.) totaled 16 points, five assists and two rebounds.

Sophomores Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) and Zachary Tavitian (Milford, Conn.) also scored in double figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Southern Maine senior guard Grayson Waterman (Berwick, Maine) led all players with a game-high 28 points, while freshman guard Evan Christensen (Old Orchard Beach, Maine) added 21 points for the Huskies.

Game Review
Western New England started strong, as the Golden Bears built a 22-8 lead just under eight minutes into the contest with the help of eight points from Sikorski and six from Brancato.

Still trailing by 14 (27-13) with 8:40 left in the half, Southern Maine utilized a 16-0 run over the next five minutes to claim a 29-27 edge. The Huskies led by the same margin (36-34) at halftime.

The score remained close throughout the second half, with Western New England taking its first five-point lead (55-50) of the period on a Tavitian three-pointer at the 11:04 mark.

The Huskies again battled back, pulling ahead 60-58 on a pair of Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine) free throws with 6:18 on the clock.

After a 6-0 run capped by a Sikorski dunk later in the half gave the Golden Bears a 64-62 advantage, Southern Maine responded with five straight points to force a Western New England timeout with 3:18 remaining.

Tavitian drained a triple coming out of the timeout to tie the score, and junior Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) put the Golden Bears ahead for good with another trey at the 2:44 mark.

A jumper by Waterman a minute later made it a one-point game (70-69), but Brancato answered with a clutch basket for Western New England and McGuire converted six free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the win.

Notes
• Western New England outscored Southern Maine 17-5 over the final 3:06 of regulation.
• The Golden Bears shot 45.9 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from the free throw line, while the Huskies shot 40.3 percent overall and just 52.6 percent from the charity stripe.
• McGuire fell one point shy of matching his career-high with tonight's 20-point effort.