BEVERLY, Mass. – Commonwealth Coast Conference Player of the Year, sophomore Kamahl Walker (Worcester, Mass.) poured in a game-high 27 points to help the Endicott College men's basketball team capture the 2015 CCC Men's Basketball Championship with a 90-60 win over Wentworth Institute of Technology.
With the win the Gulls, winners of 14 straight, capture their second conference title in four seasons and earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament, which will be announced on Monday afternoon. After being picked to finish seventh in the conference's pre-season poll, the Leopards advanced to the title game for the second time in five seasons and finish the season with a 14-14 record.
The Leopards took an early, 7-3 lead with senior John-Michael Fragnoli (Schenectady, N.Y.), junior Ian Therriault (Auburn, Maine), and senior Ray Bessette (Dedham, Maine) providing the offense. Endicott used a 9-2 run and took a 12-9 lead on a basket by Walker with 11:09 remaining and led by three (16-13) again when sophomore Stephen Basden (Lynn, Mass.) hit a layup with 8:59 to play in the half.
Wentworth clawed its way back into it and tied the game on a Fragnoli three-point play with 8:24 left before 1:17 later classmate Nico Donato (Glastonbury, Conn.) gave the visitors an 18-16 lead. After senior John Henault (Lunenburg, Mass.) hit a three pointer to put the hosts ahead by a point, Fragnoli scored the next five points and gave the Leopards a 23-19 lead with just over six minutes remaining.
A 7-0 run gave Endicott a 26-23 lead and the Gulls would increase their lead to five on a Walker jumper with three seconds left. After an offensive foul gave the ball back to the hosts, Henault banked in a three from just inside halfcourt to give the Gulls a 39-31 lead at the break. Fragnoli tied for the game high with 10 points over the first 20:00. The Leopards held the Gulls to 35.9 percent shooting from the floor and shot 41.9 percent, however were outrebounded 26-16.
Endicott opened the second half on a 9-2 run, taking a 48-33 lead on a Henault basket with 17:23 remaining. Wentworth was able to get the deficit down to as few as 11 on two occasions, including after a freshman Cesar Fulcar (Watertown, Mass.) basket with 12:46 to play. However, the Gulls used a 21-8 run to break the game open and pull away.
Walker was 11-for-16 from the floor, grabbed seven rebounds, and had four steals. Henault had 21 points, five rebounds, and three steals, while sophomore Daquan Sampson (Germantown, Md.) had 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Endicott shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, while holding Wentworth to 25.8. For the game the Gulls had a 47-35 rebounding edge.
Fragnoli led the Leopards with 15 points while junior Kyle Romich (Groton, Mass.) scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. Fulcar had nine points, six rebounds, and three assists.