CHICOPEE, Mass. – Elms College senior guard Andre French(Torrington, Conn.) scored a team-high 27 points and was named tournament MVP as the top-seeded Blazers topped No. 3 Regis College, 91-78 in Saturday's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship tournament title game at Picknelly Arena.
With the win, Elms has now won its eighth conference championship in the last nine seasons and fourth NECC championship in the last five seasons and are making their seventh appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship. The Blazers (18-9) now await their first round opponent which will be announced on Monday, February 25 during the NCAA selection show which will be broadcast on NCAA.com at 12:30 p.m. Regis concludes its season with a 13-15 overall record.
Saturday's championship contest was hotly contested early as neither team gained more than a seven-point advantage. Regis's Ryan Chambers (Abington, Mass.) was 4 of 6 from the floor including a pair of three-pointers en route to 14 points in the opening 20 minutes, while Elms' senior forwards David McDaniel (Plainfield, N.J.) and Jamal Hulum (Norfolk, Va.) scored 12 and 10 points respectively to lead the Blazers in the stanza.
The Pride was a sizzling 57.9-percent from the field in the half, while Elms hit on 40-percent of its shots and the Blazers held a 40-37 lead at intermission thanks to 21 points off 14 Regis turnovers.
Elms started the second half on an 8-0 to give the Blazers a 48-37 lead – its first double-digit advantage of the contest. Regis chipped away at its deficit narrowed its gap to two (55-53) when Jordan Monts (Springfield, Mass.) hit the back-end of two free throws with 11:57 to play in the game.
French then hit a pair of free throws and made a layup and freshman guardJerry Buchanon (Windsor, Conn.) hit a jumper to extend the lead back to eight at 61-53 with 10:35 on the clock.
The Pride clawed back once again using a Chambers trey and four made free throws by Evin Matted (Hartford, Conn.) to pull Regis to within five at 65-60 with 8:01 to play.
From there, Elms maintained at least a seven-point cushion and posted a lead of as many as 15 when Hulum connected on a jumper at the top of the key with 2:55 remaining in the contest as the Blazers closed out the victory, 91-78.
French was 9 of 10 from the free throw line and the Blazers shot 81.8-percent as a team from the stripe in the winning effort. Hulum finished the game with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds while McDaniel was perfect from three-point range with four three-pointers to highlight a 14-point effort.
Sophomore guard Piere Simpson (East Hartford, Conn.) dished out seven assists and joined sophomore forward Kenneth Lockett (Atlanta, Ga.)with six points, while junior forward Isaiah Odunlami (Providence, R.I.) scored seven points off the bench.
Chambers netted a game-high 30 points on the strength of 6 of 13 shooting from long distance, and Carlos Bermudez-Glean (Boston, Mass.) added 15 points highlighted by three treys and 6 of 7 shooting from the foul line.
Matted added 12 points and six boards and Ethan Peana (Staten Island, N.Y.) scored nine points and a team-high seven rebounds off the bench. Peana and Bermudez-Glean dished out six assists each in the losing effort.
Elms shot 48.5-percent from the field, while Regis hit on 44.9-percent of its shots. Elms held advantages in points in the paint (36-22), points turnovers (30-18), fast-break points (10-5) and bench scoring (22-10).
Elms College – Andre French (MVP)
Elms College – Jamal Hulum
Regis College – Ryan Chambers
Regis College – Carlos Bermudez-Glean
Newbury College – Tim Young
Mitchell College – Joshua Ford