Men’s Basketball Edges Salve Regina in Overtime, 85-76

Nick DeGennaro scored a career-high 15 points in Western New England's 85-76 win over Salve Regina on Wednesday night. (Photo by Chris Marion)
Nick DeGennaro scored a career-high 15 points in Western New England's 85-76 win over Salve Regina on Wednesday night. (Photo by Chris Marion)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Western New England University men's basketball team earned an 85-76, overtime victory over Salve Regina University on Wednesday night in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.

Top Performers
Junior guard Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) led the way for the Golden Bears with a game-high 28 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Sikorski shot 8-of-14 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line.

Senior guard Nick DeGennaro (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) scored a career-high 15 points to go with five assists and three steals, while senior guard Mike McGuire (Garden City, N.Y.) contributed eight points, three rebounds and three assists. Junior forward Zachary Tavitian (Milford, Conn.) finished with ten points and seven rebounds in the win.  

Salve Regina's offense featured four double-figure scorers, led by junior forward Cameron Collins (Oakdale, Conn.), who produced a team-high 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting, six boards, one assist and one steal. Sophomore guard Andrew Richards (Rosedale, N.Y.) recorded 17 points, five rebounds and two assists, while junior guard Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.) totaled 16 points, eight boards, three assists and two steals. Sophomore forward Mikey Spencer (Abington, Mass.) fell just short of a double-double with 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Game Review
After McGuire opened the scoring with a three-pointer early in the first half, Salve put together a 9-0 run with six points from Collins to give the visitors a 9-3 advantage five minutes into the contest.

The Golden Bears answered with a run of their own, scoring 14 straight points to reclaim a 17-9 edge with 10:38 left in the half. Sikiorski and senior Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) contributed four points each, while McGuire connected on a pair of triples to cap the surge. 

Western New England's lead reached seven (22-15) three minutes later on a jumper by DeGennaro, and the Golden Bears eventually went up as much as nine (35-26) when sophomore Antonio Brancato (Fairfield, Conn.) completed a three-point play with 2:35 left in the half.

Salve scored the next five points, before a Sikorski layup capped the scoring in the half as the Golden Bears held a 37-31 lead at the break. 

Western New England opened the second half with consecutive baskets by Tavitian, including a dunk that extended the advantage into double figures (41-31) a minute and a half into the period.

With Salve trailing by the same margin (48-38) after Sikorski connected from long range at the 16:39 mark, the Seahawks utilized a 9-0 spurt that culminated in a Mike Palmieri (Bristol, Conn.) triple to close the gap to one (48-47) with 14:36 on the clock. 

The visitors tied the score (49-49) on a Richards layup 25 seconds later, before taking their first lead of the half (53-51) on a Kelly jumper at 11:03. 

Salve extended its lead to five (56-51) with 9:31 to play, as freshman Patrick Williamson (Huntington, N.Y.) completed a three-point play to cap the Seahawks' 7-0 run. 

Western New England quickly erased its deficit with a 6-0 spurt over the next minute. Tavitian fueled the run with a pair of layups, before DeGennaro put the Golden Bears back in front with a layup (57-56) at the 8:28 mark. 

The lead changed hands twice over the next couple of minutes, with DeGennaro giving the Golden Bears a 66-63 lead on a deep triple with 4:31 to play.

Salve took its final lead of the game (67-66) on a layup by Collins with 1:24 remaining, before Sikorski tied the contest at the 1:07 mark when he made 1-of-2 free throws.

Both teams had opportunities to take the lead in the final seconds, but both the Golden Bears and Seahawks were unable to get shots to fall, forcing overtime

Western New England never trailed in the extra period, as DeGennaro got the Golden Bears off to a strong start by knocking down a corner three-pointer.

After Spencer made a pair of free throws to cut the Salve deficit to one (70-69), Sikorski scored four straight points to increase Western New England's lead to 74-69.

The Seahawks pulled to within two (76-74) after Richards completed a three-point play with 1:38 remaining, but the Golden Bears sealed the win at the free throw line, knocking down 9-of-10 attempts over the final 1:22.

Notes
• With the win, Western New England has now started 2-0 in CCC play for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign.
• The Golden Bears made all three of their field goal attempts and 11-of-12 from the free-throw line in overtime.

Up Next
Both teams play their final games of the semester on Saturday, as Western New England (6-4, 2-0 CCC) travels to Endicott and Salve Regina (2-5, 0-1 CCC) heads back on the road to the University of New England.