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Comeback Bid Falls Just Short in Men's Basketball's Loss to Roger Williams

Comeback Bid Falls Just Short in Men's Basketball's Loss to Roger Williams

BOSTON, Mass. – Sophomore Austin Coene (Tyngsborough, Mass.) scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the first half to help pace the Roger Williams University men's basketball team to a 69-66 victory over Wentworth Institute of Technology in a Commonwealth Coast Conference contest Saturday afternoon at Tansey Gymnasium.

Winners of seven straight games the Hawks improve to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in CCC play while the Leopards see their record fall to 4-9 (2-4) with the loss.

Freshman Matt Vartanian (Salem, N.H.) gave Wentworth a 4-0 lead early in the contest and the Black & Gold led 8-4 after a junior Jason Ganley (Northbridge, Mass.) basket with 16:14 left. Roger Williams outscored the Leopards 18-6 over the next 7:09 and led by eight after a Coene jumper.

Three pointers from Ganley and junior Cesar Fulcar (Watertown, Mass.) ignited a 9-1 run and gave Wentworth a 26-23 lead after a steal and basket from Ganley with 4:47 left. However, the Hawks closed out the half on an 11-2 run and led, 34-28, at the break. Roger Williams shot 53.6 percent from the floor in the opening half.

A layup and three pointer from junior Ben Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.) and two free throws from senior Dan DeVaux (Wethersfield, Conn.) gave the hosts a 35-34 lead early in the second half. The teams battled back and forth before Wentworth took a 49-43 lead on a jumper from junior Sam Knollmeyer (Hampton, N.H.) with 8:30 remaining.

An 11-0 run, capped off by a three pointer form junior Connor O'Brien (Sharon, Mass.), gave the visitors a 53-50 lead with 5:48 remaining. Kizel answered with a trifecta of his own to tie the game just over a minute later, but, on the next possession, senior Josh Syska (Peabody, Mass.) gave Roger Williams a two-point lead it would not relinquish.

The Hawks pushed their lead to as many as eight with 31 seconds left on a pair of free throws from Syska, however the Leopards nearly pulled off the comeback. Ganley answered with a three pointer to cut the lead to five, and, after Syska hit one of two free throws with 17 seconds left, DeVaux hit a three pointer with 10.5 seconds remaining to make it a three-point game. Out of a time out Wentworth fouled junior Nick Marini (Loudonville, N.Y.), who missed both free throw attempts with eight ticks left. Ganley grabbed the rebound and Wentworth worked it around for the tying shot, however Ganley's bid was off the mark.

Coene connected on 10-of-19 shots, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out three assists. O'Brien finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and grabbing 18 rebounds. Junior Jaylen Jennings (Norwalk, Conn.) had eight of his 11 points in the second half.

Ganley led Wentworth with 22 points, scoring 11 in each half, while grabbing seven rebounds, dishing out five assists, and having three steals. DeVaux finished with 13 points while Kizel had nine points and seven rebounds. Fulcar had eight points and four assists and Vartanian grabbed 10 rebounds.

Both teams are in action on Wednesday. Wentworth is at Curry while Roger Williams hosts Western New England.

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