CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College men's basketball team edged visiting Becker College in overtime, 85-79, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) game at Picknelly Arena Thursday night. The Blazers improve to 11-9 on the year, and 9-3 in league play, while Becker drops to 7-3 in the NECC, and 10-9 overall.
The squads exchange baskets over the opening minutes of play, knotting the score at 6-6 with 16:49 on the clock. The Blazers took control behind a 7-1 run, fueled by five points from junior Symon Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla.), to grab a 13-7 lead, but the Hawks stayed close on five straight points from junior Khairi Mosley (Elizabeth, N.J.). Elms used an 11-4 run over the next four minutes to possess a 24-16 advantage with 8:13 left in the half. Becker rallied back on a 12-3 run, spanning four minutes of play, powered by six points from senior Samuel Durodola (Ansonia, Conn.) to hand the Hawks a 28-27 with 4:19 remaining. Back-to-back buckets from sophomore Keeshaun King (Jacksonville, Fla.), followed by a three-pointer from senior Jerry Buchanon (Windsor, Conn.) captured a 34-30 lead for Elms. The Hawks netted seven points in the final two minutes to take a 37-35 lead into halftime.
A jumper from Elms junior Conny Ihearahu (Largo, Md.) knotted the contest at 41-41 with 18:06 to play. The teams continued to trade the lead and a trey from freshman Kareem Davis (Lowell, Mass.) evened the tilt at 45-45. A 12-7 run by the Hawks, capped off by a jumper from Mosley put the Hawks up 57-52 with 9:24 remaining. The Blazers regained a 58-57 lead as junior Trifon Bish (St. Catherine, Jamaica) jarred consecutive jumpers off the bench. The squad continued to trade the lead down the stretch, finding themselves tied at 68-68 with 2:54 to go. Davis knocked down a three, followed by a fast-break layup from Credle push Becker ahead 73-68. Elms responded a Bish ripped down an offensive rebound and put back a layup, and complete a three-point play after drawing a foul. Trailing 75-71, Bish canned a three-pointer to cut the Blazers deficit to 75-74 with less than a minute to play. Davis hit a pair of free throws to make it a 77-74 game with 20 second remaining. On the Blazers final possession, Bish took a pass from Buchanon and buried a trey from the left wing, sending the game to overtime tied 77-77.
In overtime, both team scored on their opening possessions. Free throw shooting proved to be key as the Blazers connected on six straight to close the period. Buchanon drew a foul at the 2:28 mark and connected on two free throws giving Elms a 81-79 advantage. Davis came up short on a go-ahead three-pointer with 1:14 on the clock, forcing the Hawks to foul. Smith made four consecutive free throws in the final minute to lock up the 85-79 win for the Blazers.
Elms had five scorers in double figures, led by a season-high 22 points from Smith, shooting 8-of-16, from the floor with five rebounds and four assists. Bish poured in a career-high 18 points, connecting on 3-of-4 three-pointers, while Buchanon added 15 points and a game-high six assists. King scored a career-high 14 points, and Ihearahu registered his seventh double-double of the season with a game-high 13 rebounds and 10 points.
Durodola charged the Hawks offensively with a double-double effort of a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. Credle tallied 19 points with seven rebound and four assits, while Davis netted 16 points with six rebounds and four assists.
The Hawks outrebounded the Blazers, 49-39, during the contest, while Elms bench outscored Becker bench, 22-7. The Blazers connected on 47.9% (35-of-73) from the floor, including 26.1% (6-of-23) from three-point range, and 60% (9-of-15) from the free throw line. The Hawks shot 45.3% (34-of-75) from the field, 31.8% (7-of-22) from three-point and 44.4% (4-of-9) from the foul stripe.
Elms will be back in action with a non-conference road trip to Westfield State Wednesday, February 10th at 7:00 p.m. Becker hosts Lesley in conference play at Leicester Gymnasium Saturday at 1:00 p.m.