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Men's Basketball Outlasted by Clark

Men's Basketball Outlasted by Clark

WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior Tyler Huffman's (West Hartford, Conn.) two free throws with 3:15 remaining in the second overtime gave the Clark University men's basketball team a lead it would not relinquish as the Cougars outlasted Wentworth Institute of Technology, 99-94, in the opening day of the 2015 Clark Alumni Holiday Basketball Invitational.

The Cougars snap an eight-game losing streak and improve to 2-8 on the season while the Leopards, who were playing in their first double overtime game since March 3, 2011, fall to 4-5. Wentworth received career highs from both sophomore Jason Ganley (Northbridge, Mass.) and senior Kyle Romich (Groton, Mass.) as the duo tallied 30 and 29 points, respectively.

Wentworth turned a 2-0 deficit into a 9-2 lead, thanks to six points from Ganley and three from Romich and extended its lead to 13-4 on a sophomore Sam Knollmeyer (Hampton, N.H.) trifecta with 13:28 left in the opening frame. Clark trimmed the lead to three (16-13) with 10:40 left thanks in part to five points from junior David Mercier (Milford, Mass.). Consecutive jumpers from Romich and a three from Ganley extended the lead to 23-17, however the Cougars would pull within a pair at 23-21.

Romich upped the Leopards' lead with a basket with 5:13 left and held a 33-29 lead with 1:30 left after Ganley's two free throws. However, the Cougars got a jumper from freshman Brendan Kitteridge (Clinton, Mass.) with 1:06 left and junior Lamar Berk (Saint Augustine, Fla.) hit a pair of free throws with a second left to knot the game at 33-all.

The two teams went back and forth for the first five minutes of the second half with Romich tying the game at 41-all. Mercier hit one of two free throws to give the hosts a 42-41 on the next possession before a 7-0 Wentworth run – fueled by four points from Ganley and three from Knollmeyer – gave Wentworth a six-point lead with just under 14:00 left.

A 14-3 Clark run would give the Cougars a 56-51 lead with 7:58 remaining in the half and the hosts maintained the lead until Ganley scored five straight points and Knollmeyer knocked down a three with 2:48 left to put the Black & Gold on top, 67-66, with 2:48 to play in regulation.

The Cougars scored the next four points to lead, 70-67, with 29 ticks left. Two free throws from Romich made it a one-point game with 27 seconds left, however Berk nailed two free throws with 19 seconds left to extend the lead to three. With nine seconds left, Knollmeyer found Romich just to the right of the Leopard bench to drain the game-tying three. Clark had a chance to win the game, however the attempt was blocked, sending the contest to overtime.

Neither team would have more than a three-point lead in the first overtime as the period featured four ties and just one lead change. Ganley broke an 80-all tie with a free throw with 39 seconds left and Romich extended the lead to three with two more free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining. However, after a time out, Huffman nailed a three from just behind the line as the buzzer sounded to send the game to a second overtime period.

In the second overtime, Ganley gave Wentworth an 85-83 lead with a layup 16 seconds into the frame but Clark scored the next three points to take an 86-85 lead as sophomore John Pisacreta (Andover, Mass.) hit one of two free throws and Huffman hit a jumper. Sophomore Ben Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) briefly gave the Leopards with a jumper of his own the lead before Huffman's two free throws would give Clark the lead for good.

Huffman's two free throws began a 7-0 run which gave Clark a 93-87 lead. Romich ended the run with a three with 56 seconds left, however that would be as close as the Leopards would come as the Cougars would hit seven of eight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Ganley was 9-for-16 from the floor and 11-for-13 form the free throw line while also dishing out three assists. Romich 11-for-18 from the floor, including 3-of-8 from behind the arc, grabbed seven rebounds, and had four assists. Knollmeyer added 15 points and four assists while senior Ian Therriault (Auburn, Maine) had eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Wentworth shot 53.3 percent (32-for-60) from the floor, which included 12-for-27 from behind the arc.

Five players scored in double figures for Clark, including Mercier who led the Cougars with 21. Freshman Luca McCormick (Bradenton, Fla.) scored 20, Pisacreta had 13, Huffman scored 12, and Berk added 10. Clark had a 44-32 rebounding advantage.

Day two of the tournament sees Wentworth playing Worcester State on Wednesday at Noon and Clark playing Roger Williams at 2:00.