Second Half Performance Pushes Endicott Past Men’s Basketball, 87-78

Antonio Brancato contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists off the bench in Western New England's 87-78 loss to Endicott on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Marion)
Antonio Brancato contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists off the bench in Western New England's 87-78 loss to Endicott on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Marion)

BEVERLY, Mass. – The Endicott College men's basketball team used a strong second half performance to earn an 87-78 win over Western New England University on Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action at MacDonald Gymnasium.

Top Performers
Senior guard Mike McGuire (Garden City, N.Y.) paced the Golden Bears with a team-high 21 points, shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Senior guard Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and junior guard Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) contributed 14 points each, while combining for 15 rebounds. Sophomore guard Antonio Brancato (Fairfield, Conn.) chipped in with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes off the bench.

Endicott was led by the trio of junior forward Matt McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine), senior guard Keith Brown (Pelham, N.H.) and freshman guard Jalen Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.). McDevitt scored a game-high 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Brown poured in 27 points, while Echevarria added 20.

Game Review
Trailing 11-6 early, the Golden Bears posted an 11-2 run to establish a 17-13 advantage. Western New England held its largest lead of the afternoon (20-15) following a Sikorski layup with 9:47 left in the half.

The Golden Bears remained ahead for the majority of the half, before relinquishing the lead with three minutes to play when Echevarria sank a pair of free throws. Western New England took its final lead of the game (31-29) on a McGuire layup ten seconds later, but Endicott scored the final four points of the half and held a 33-31 edge at the break.

The Gulls stretched their advantage to eight (41-33) at the 16:49 mark of the second half after the Golden Bears were called for a technical foul and McDevitt sank four free throws. Endicott pushed its lead into double figures shortly after on an Echevarria layup.

Trailing by a game-high 15 points (50-35) after Echevarria made 1-of-2 free throws with 13:36 to play, Western New England put together a 9-0 run to close the gap to six (50-44). Brancato knocked down a three-pointer with 10:10 on the clock to make it a three-point game (52-49), and the Golden Bears got as close as two (59-57) on a layup by senior Cole Eiber (Albertson, N.Y.) two minutes later.

Echevarria answered with a triple for the Gulls, however, sparking a critical 19-9 run over the next four minutes that saw Endicott extend its lead to 12 (78-66) with 3:42 left in regulation.

Western New England was able to get as close as seven (83-76) in the final minute, but the Gulls' second half surge proved to be too much to overcome.

Notes
• Western New England shot 47% (31-of-66) from the field, but just 16% (4-of-25) from three-point range.
• The Golden Bears outrebounded the Gulls 35-28, led by Sikorski (8 rebounds) and Reilly/Brancato (7 each).

Up Next
Western New England (6-5, 2-1 CCC) is off until Saturday, January 4th, when the Golden Bears travel to Boston to face Suffolk. Endicott (5-3, 2-0 CCC) will be on the road at Salve Regina on Tuesday night.