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Donato's Buzzer Beater Lifts Men's Basketball Past Western New England

Donato's Buzzer Beater Lifts Men's Basketball Past Western New England

BOSTON, Mass. – Junior Nico Donato's (Glastonbury, Conn.) steal with three seconds left and layup as time expired lifted the Wentworth Institute of Technology men's basketball team to a 55-53 win over Western New England in Commonwealth Coast Conference action played at Tansey Gymnasium.

Donato's heroics came as he tipped the ball away just outside the three-point line, where senior Derek Mayo (Casco, Maine) picked it up and fed Donato who laid it in as time expired. With the win the Leopards even their record to 11-11 overall and 8-7 in CCC play while the Golden Bears slip to 6-15 (4-11).

Wentworth erased an early, 2-0 deficit on back-to-back 3-pointers from Mayo and freshman Jherson Colon (Boston, Mass.), and, after Western New England tied the game on back-to-back baskets by seniors Nick DeFeo (Southington, Conn.) and Dennis Rinaldi (Harrison, N.Y.), Mayo went on an 8-2 run give the hosts a 14-7 lead.

The Leopards would lead by as many as seven on two more occasions, including when sophomore Ronnie Turner (Lewiston, Maine) hit a layup with 9:53 left, but the Golden Bears used an 11-0 run and took a 22-18 lead on a 3-pointer from senior Ryan Mickiewicz (East Longmeadow, Mass.) with 6:38 left. After a 3-pointer from senior Scott Moran (Orange, Conn.) cut the lead to one, junior Musir Elsir (Springfield, Mass.) hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game. Donato scored the next four points, giving the Leopards a 25-23 advantage with 2:23 left.

Wentworth took a 27-25 lead on a basket from junior Ray Bessette (Dedham, Maine) with 1:43 left, however Western New England scored five of the final seven points of the half to take a 30-29 lead at the break.

The Golden Bears opened the second half by extending their lead to five (35-30) with 18:33 left and led, 37-34 with 14:46 to play after a Rinaldi basket. The Leopards responded with a 9-0 run – capped off by a pair of Mayo free throws – and led by six (43-37) with 11:13 left.

Western New England trailed by five with 8:02 left, but used a 9-0 run and took a 52-48 lead on a DeFeo layup with 3:34 left. Colon answered with a three of his own to cut the lead to one and would bury a jumper with 1:47 left to give the hosts a one-point lead.

Rinaldi hit one of two free throws with 1:26 left, knotting the score at 53-all. Wentworth's ensuing possession resulted in a missed shot and a Golden Bear defensive rebound, however, the visitors couldn't convert with 48 seconds left, giving the Black & Gold a chance to go ahead. Wentworth's possession resulted in a turnover with 25 seconds left, and, with 17 seconds left Western New England called a time out in the front court.

Out of the timeout, the Golden Bears set up their offense and made three passes. On the fourth pass, Donato made a strip steal, which set up the buzzer-beating heroics.

Mayo led the Leopards with 15 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Colon added 11 points and Donato scored 10 points, had four rebounds, three assists, and four steals.

Rinaldi led the Golden Bears with 16 points (on 7-for-10 shooting) to go along with seven rebounds and a pair of assists. Mickiewicz added 14 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, and DeFeo finished with nine points.

Both teams continue CCC play on Saturday as Wentworth is at Roger Williams and Western New England is at Eastern Nazarene.