MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – Host Morrisville State College men's basketball posted a 76-73 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) quarterfinal victory over visiting Wells College Tuesday night in thrilling fashion, advancing to the semifinal round.
Morrisville State (20-6) will face regular season champion Gallaudet University Saturday at 2 p.m. in Gallaudet.
Kevin Dennis (Bronx, N.Y.) paced Morrisville State with 20 points, adding 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, while teammate Trent Ward (Auburn, N.Y.) added 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, also dishing out seven assists, to lead the Mustang charge.
Jordan Hoose (Hudson, N.Y.) collected 13 points and added six rebounds to go along with a team high seven assists, as Kenny Bonaparte (Soundview, N.Y.) contributed 13 points, two of which came in the closing minute of the contest.
Wells had an all-around persistent effort from its squad, as four registered double figures, including leading scorer Rich Ross with 19. Tyree Fisher added 17 on 5-of-6 shooting from downtown, while Vaughndell Brantley and James Feocco added 14 and 12 points, respectively to the Express efforts.
Wells led 33-30 at the half, before both teams battled back and forth in the second, changing leads nine times and tying the score five.
After closing the gap to one with seven minutes remaining, Wells hit three straight three's to regain a six point advantage with five minutes to go.
After a bucket by Dennis to give Morrisville State the one-point lead, Ross responded for the Express with his fourth long ball of the day, regaining the 73-71 advantage for the visitors.
Dennis hit the back end of two free throws to bring the Mustangs within one with 1:48 to go, and after gathering a huge rebound on the defensive end to get the crowd on their feet, Dennis kicked the ball to Peck who nailed the baseline jumper for the 74-73 Morrisville State lead with 1:05 to go.
A loud crowd assisted Morrisville State's defense in forcing a key turnover on the ensuing Express possession, and Wells' Jordyn Tyler sent Bonaparte to the line for two after fouling the sophomore.
Bonaparte hit both free throws for the 76-73 Mustang lead with 36 ticks remaining.
With time winding down, Wells had two last chance opportunities, one from Ross from the top of the key that fell off the side of the rim into the hands of Brantley who put up another attempt from beyond the arc, but it fell short and into the hands of Dennis who secured the ball for the win.
Morrisville State outscored the Express 46-40 in the second half, dominating the paint as they held the 26-6 advantage in the inside game.
Across the contest, the Mustangs were able to hold Wells to 38.5% shooting from the floor, while hitting 49.2% of their own. Morrisville State dominated the glass, 42-31, holding the slim 14-12 advantage on the offensive boards.
Morrisville State and Wells were the two lone teams to down Gallaudet during the regular season. The Mustangs collected the 96-90 victory over the Bison back on January 29th.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2016 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2016 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.