Leicester, Mass. --- Rajai Leggett (New Haven, Conn.) poured in 25 points including 17 in the second half as Becker advanced to the NECC Men's Basketball Tournament Championship Game with an 83-60 victory over Newbury on Friday night at the Leicester Gym. It is the fourth consecutive year the Hawks have reached the finals of the conference tournament. Becker will meet the Elms/Regis winner in Saturday's NECC Championship.
The Hawks of Becker run their record to 22-4 while the Nighthawks of Newbury finish their season at 12-15. It was the 100th career victory for Becker Head Coach Brian Gorman, coming in just his fifth season at the helm of the Hawks program.
Terrance Favors (Boston, Mass.) scored Becker's first five points as the Hawks jumped out to a 5-0 lead. After the Nighthawks tied the game, both teams would trade baskets for several minutes, with the hosts going up by six after a layup from Leggett with 14:00 left in the first period. Newbury would pull to within one with a 3-pointer from Steve Rosemond (Everett, Mass.) and a second trifecta from Rosemund would finally tie the game at 19-19 with 8:45 remaining in the half. Despite briefly falling behind by two, the hosts would use a 12-2 run to take control of the game, capped off by a fast break pass from Jerome Cohen (Boston, Mass.) to Yahmad Rountree (Waterbury, Conn.) for a layup with 2:35 left in the period. Becker entered halftime leading 35-30. Favors and Rosemond each led their respective teams with 11 points. The Hawks used a 22-13 rebounding advantage to help build their lead, scoring ten points off eight offensive rebounds.
In the second half, Becker again started strong, opening up a ten point lead at 42-32 after a layup from Cohen. After a 3-pointer from Newbury's Eric Watson (Chapel Hill, N.C.) cut the lead to five, Tyler Roberson (Irvington, N.J.) would answer with a shot from downtown as the Hawks went up by eight with 16:07 remaining in the game. Throughout the second half, Becker would display the athleticism and tenacity that led them to a dominating 16-0 conference record this season, while a plucky Newbury squad vainly attempted to narrow the deficit. The Hawks lead by as much as 23 after a reverse-layup from Sam Grimsley (Waterbury, Conn.) with just under a minute left, and that would do it.
In addition to his scoring contributions, Leggett led Becker with 11 rebounds, including seven off the offensive glass. His sensational 11-of-17 shooting performance was decisive. Favors had an excellent all-around performance, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Cohen continued to dominate the inside with 12 points, ten rebounds, two blocks and four assists. Roberson helped out with eight points, four assists and three boards. As a team, the Hawks more than doubled their foes in rebounding, 45-22. Becker shot 67 percent from the floor in the second half.
Kwame Thompson (Brockton, Mass.) led the Nighthawks with 19 points points, shooting 9-of-17 from the floor. Watson ended the game with 14 points, while Rosemund finished with 11 points and four boards. Tim Young (Brockton, Mass.) added seven points.
Regis will play Elms in the second semifinal game of the evening. The winner of that game will face Becker on tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. for the NECC Tournament Championship.