New England College Claims First NAC Men's Basketball Championship Title
The New England College men's basketball team made history on Saturday afternoon by winning their first North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Championship title, defeating Colby-Sawyer College 72-56 in front of a capacity crowd at Bridges Gym.
With the win, the Pilgrims (21-6) will advance to the program's first NCAA Tournament. Colby-Sawyer sees its season come to a close at 18-9.
The Pilgrims were led by Ricky Leonard (Windsor, Conn.) with a game-high 20 points. Jason Jones (Roxbury, Mass.) chipped in with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Calvin Cheek (Mattapan, Mass.) finished with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals.
The Chargers received 14 points from Dana Bean (Franklin, N.H.) and 10 points from Erik Olsen (Dracut, Mass.) off the bench.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Pilgrims controlled the scoreboard from the first possession on and quickly built a 10-point lead, 14-4, in just over five minutes of action. The Chargers used the next four minutes to cut the deficit to four points, 15-11 with 11:08 left in the half, but NEC held them to their 11 points for a four-minute run and led 23-11 with 7:55 to go. The Pilgrims were up by 13 points, 36-23, at halftime.
The Pilgrims nearly doubled-up the Chargers in first-half shooting efficiency, hitting 14-of-33 (42.4 percent) while holding Colby-Sawyer to eight field goals on 27 shots (29.6 percent).
Colby-Sawyer came within six points four minutes into the second half but that proved to be the tipping point for NEC, who used a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to take a 46-33 lead. The pendulum really began swinging in NEC's favor with less than 10 minutes to play. NEC would lead by 20 points, 59-39, with 7:10 still to go and would lead by 29 points three minutes later. The Chargers hit some shots at the end of the game to seal the 16-point win for NEC, 72-56.
NEC shot better from the floor in the second half, hitting 14-of-29 for a 48.3 percent efficiency. The Chargers shot 9-for-24 in the second half.
MVP: Ricky Leonard, New England College
Eric Berry – Umaine Farmington
DJ Bussey, Husson
Jourdain Bell, Colby-Sawyer
Jason Jones, New England College
Dana Bean, Colby-Sawyer
Calvin Cheek, New England College
The Pilgrims will learn their NCAA tournament opponent on Monday at 12:30 p.m. The first round begins on Friday, March 2nd.
2018 NAC MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Championship • Saturday, February 24 (at New England College)
No. 1 New England College 72, No. 3 Colby-Sawyer 56 - Boxscore