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Men's Basketball Clipped by Nichols in Regular-Season Finale

Men's Basketball Clipped by Nichols in Regular-Season Finale

DUDLEY, Mass. – Junior Jerome Cunningham's (Westbury, N.Y.) two free throws with 35 seconds remaining in regulation snapped a 64-all tie and helped the Nichols College men's basketball team claim a 67-64 win over Wentworth Institute of Technology in Commonwealth Coast Conference action Saturday afternoon.

With the win the 17th-ranked Bison lock up the CCC Regular-Season title and the top seed in the conference tournament while improving to 23-2 overall and 15-1 in league play. The Leopards conclude the regular season with an 8-17 overall record and a 5-11 mark in conference play. The Black & Gold finished in the three-way tie for sixth place and earned the tournament's number seven seed, giving them a first-round game at second-seeded Gordon on Tuesday (February 19) at 7:00 p.m.

Wentworth jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game, thanks in part to four points from junior Stephen Azums (Hyde Park, Mass.). While there were two ties in the opening 20 minutes, the Leopards never trailed and held a pair of five-point leads, including when sophomore Kyle Henseler (Coventry, R.I.) hit a pair of free throws with 1:35 left in the opening half. The Black & Gold held a three-point (32-29) lead at the break. Sophomore Gavin Keough (Dunstable, Mass.) led all scorers with 13 first-half points.

Nichols took its first lead of the game on a Cunningham layup less than a minute into the second half and the second half went back and forth with the hosts eventually taking a five-point (59-54) lead on a pair of junior DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.) free throws with 4:16 remaining. Azums scored Wentworth's next four points to bring the Black & Gold within one. Nichols responded by scoring five of the next seven points to take a 64-60 lead on a Bruton layup with two minutes remaining.

Henseler completed a personal string of six consecutive points by scoring four in a row after Bruton's basket to tie the game at 64-all. After Nichols missed a go-ahead three with 51 seconds left, the Leopards got the rebound and called time out. Out of the time out, a missed three pointer gave the Bison the ball back where Cunningham was fouled and hit two free throws. Wentworth was forced into a turnover by sophomore Nate Tenaglia (Tewksbury, Mass.), and, after a time out, Bruton hit one of two free throws to extend the lead to three with 13 seconds remaining. Wentworth's game-tying shot with time ticking down was off the mark.

Bruton led the Bison with 15 points while senior Bryce Boggs (Hyde Park, Mass.) added 11 points. Cunningham finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Three players scored in double figures for Wentworth with Henseler's 20 points leading the way. Keough scored 17 and grabbed six rebounds, while Azums had 10 points and 13 rebounds. The Leopards held the Bison to a season-low 36.2 percent shooting from the floor and had a 41-40 edge in rebounds.

Tuesday's first-round game will be the 60th all-time meeting between the two schools with the Fighting Scots holding a 37-22 advantage, including taking both regular-season meetings this year. In CCC Tournament games, this will be the eighth time the two have squared off with Wentworth winning four of the previous seven meetings, including the two prior playoff games (2015, 2017) between the two.

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