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Men's Basketball Outruns UNE to End Losing Skid

Men's Basketball Outruns UNE to End Losing Skid

BIDDEFORD, Maine – Paced by a career-high 27 points from sophomore Stephen Azums (Hyde Park, Mass.) and a career-high 24 points from senior Ben Kizel (Short Hills, N.J.), the Wentworth Institute of Technology men's basketball team outlasted the University of New England, 97-89, in Commonwealth Coast Conference action Thursday night.

Snapping a two-game losing streak, the Leopards improve to 9-4 overall and 4-2 in CCC play while the Nor'Easters fall to 4-9 (2-4). The 97 points scored by the Black & Gold are the most since putting up 98 in a 98-90 win at Curry in the 2007 CCC title game.

The teams matched mostly basket for basket through the early stages of the contest. After Azums, who scored 18 of his game-high 27 on 9-13 shooting in the first half, scored to give Wentworth a 16-14 lead with 14:20 left in the frame, a three from freshman Jordan Bagshaw (Cumberland, Maine) and a three from senior Gavin Dibble (Greenport, N.Y.) gave UNE a 20-16 lead. From that point the Leopards used a 16-2 run over the next 3:08 to take a 32-22 lead, capped off by a pair of free throws from Kizel.

Six straight Nor'Easter points cut the lead to 32-28 before senior Cesar Fulcar (Watertown, Mass.) converted a layup and followed up with a three to push the lead to 37-28 with 8:13 left. After an Azums layup made it 40-31 with 7:03 left in the half, UNE countered with five straight points to trim the lead to four (40-36). The Leopards upped their lead to 12 (52-40) after two straight layups from Azums before an 8-0 Nor'Easter run made it 52-48 at the break.

Azums opened the second half with a layup to make it a six-point game before two junior Drew Patno (Lunenberg, Mass.) free throws cut the lead to a single point with 17:16 left in the half. The Nor'Easters took a 58-57 lead on a freshman Matt Hobbs (Anchorage, Alaska) three and led 61-59 after a senior Drew Coveney (Londonderry, N.H.) three with 14:47 remaining.

One of two free throws from sophomore Ellis Christmas (Elmsford, N.Y.) made it 61-60 and started a 5-0 spurt – keyed by four points from senior Jason Ganley (Northbridge, Mass.) – which gave the Black & Gold a 64-61 lead with 12:05 left. The teams traded leads and tied the score 12 times before two Ganley free throws with 7:31 left gave Wentworth a 75-73 lead. Wentworth upped its lead to five on a senior Sam Knollmeyer (Hampton, N.H.) three with 3:26 remaining and the Leopards took a seven-point lead (88-82) lead on an Azums three-point play nearly a minute and a half later. Three of four Kizel free throws in a stretch of 17 seconds pushed the lead to eight (92-84), and, despite UNE pulling within four late, Ganley hit four free throws late in the contest to seal the win.

Azums was 12-for-17 from the floor and also hauled down 16 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Kizel finished 6-for-11 from the floor and 9-for-11 from the charity stripe to go along with five rebounds and five steals. Ganley (15 points) and Knollmeyer (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Black & Gold.

Hobbs led a trio of Nor'Easters in double figures with 15 points while freshman Alex Kravchuk (Mansfield, Conn.) scored 14 points and Lorman added 11 points.

Wentworth hosts Nichols on Saturday.

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