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Men's Basketball Outlasts New England College

Men's Basketball Outlasts New England College

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Senior Jason Ganley's (Northbridge, Mass.) layup with 1:46 remaining in regulation snapped a 67-all tie and helped lift the Wentworth Institute of Technology men's basketball team to a 72-67 win over New England College in the opening round of the 2017 Middlebury Tip-Off Tournament.

With the win the Leopards improve to 2-0 while the Pilgrims drop their season opener. Wentworth will face host Middlebury tomorrow in the championship game at 3:00 p.m. while New England College will square off against Fitchburg State in the third-place contest.

Wentworth scored the first five points of the contest, coming on a layup from sophomore Matt Vartanian (Salem, N.H.) and a three from senior Sam Knollmeyer (Hampton, N.H.). New England College evened the score at 5-all – one of six first-half ties – and the Pilgrims took a 16-13 lead on a Will Melanson three pointer with 10:43 remaining.

A Ganley three pointer evened the score at 16-all and ignited a 9-2 run where Ganley capped the run with a layup which made it 22-18 in favor of the Leopards with 6:34 to play in the half. A three-point play from Ganley extended the lead to 25-20 with 4:29 remaining in the half before five straight New England College points deadlocked the game at 25-all with 3:25 remaining in the half.

The two teams went cold for the next 3:39 before sophomore Stephen Azums (Hyde Park, Mass.) gave Wentworth a 27-25 lead with 46 seconds to play in the half, a lead that would carry into the break.

Scoring the first four points of the second half, the Pilgrims took a 29-27 lead before senior Cesar Fulcar (Watertown, Mass.) evened the score once more. However, New England College took a 35-29 lead with 16:01 left after Calvin Cheek hit one of two free throws. Wentworth clawed its way back to within one on a Knollmeyer three and tied the game at 37-all on an Azums three-point play.

The teams battled back and forth with the Leopards taking a 55-53 lead on a Ganley layup with 7:34 remaining. An 8-0 Pilgrim run gave New England College a 61-57 lead with 5:17 left and the Pilgrims extended their lead to 64-59 with 4:49 left on a three from Ricky Leonard.

Trailing 66-62 with 3:27 left in the contest, Wentworth went on a game-ending 10-1 run. Azums hit two free throws with 3:14 left to pull the Black & Gold within two before a second-chance basket from Fulcar tied the game at 66-all.

With 1:56 remaining, Trevor Parker gave the Pilgrims a 67-66 lead when he hit one of two free throws. After a pair of missed free throws, Fulcar grabbed the offensive rebound, which would set the stage for Ganley's go-ahead layup. New England College missed a jumper on its next possession which led to another basket by Ganley to extend the lead to 71-67.

Ganley and Azums each finished with double-doubles as Ganley scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Azums added 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Fulcar had eight points, eight rebounds, and four assists and Knollmeyer had nine points, four rebounds, and four assists.

Leonard led New England College with 13 points.

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