HENNIKER, N.H. – The New England College men's basketball team defeated Mitchell College 92-90 in the New England Collegiate Conference Championship for their second conference championship in three years, Saturday evening. The win came dramatically with a last-second three culminating a late comeback for the Pilgrims as they were down 16 with 10 minutes to play.
With the win, the Pilgrims improve to 21-6 overall, while the Mariners season comes to a close at 12-15.
The game started very slowly as neither team was able to score for the first minute and a half until Mitchell finally hit a bucket. From there things tightened up as each side traded baskets with the Mariners holding the slight edge at 6-4 five minutes in. Shortly after New England College took a 12-0 run for a 19-9 lead halfway through. Mitchell then started to chip away as they were able to even things up at 24-24 with six minutes left in the half. The play was tightly contested in the final minutes of the half as each side traded baskets and the lead. NEC was able to hit the final basket of the half as they headed into the breakup 39-38. The Pilgrims shot just 36 percent from the field in the first half while the Mariners shot 51 percent.
The Mariners came out hot in the second half as they went on a 15-4 run to claim the lead at 53-44 three minutes in. Mitchell kept rolling as they found themselves up 67-53 with 11:44 left to play. New England College then began to chip away as they took a 10-0 run late in the half to cut the lead to 76-70 with six minutes left in the game. Tensions were running high as the game remained highly competitive with the Mariners holding an 81-75 lead with just under four minutes left. The Pilgrims kept rolling but Mitchell held strong as they were up 90-85 with just over a minute remaining in regulation. New England College was able to get a late stop and then capitalize on the ensuing offensive opportunity to make it a two-point game at 90-88 with 56 seconds to play. NEC again made a stop and was able to get to the line as Calvin Cheek hit one to cut it to 89-90 with 24 seconds left. The Mariners again turned the ball over giving the Pilgrims a big opportunity late. They held the ball for the final shot as Calvin Cheek drained a three with 1.3 seconds left to play. Mitchell was unable to score as New England College dramatically claimed the NECC Championship.
Jamal Allen led all scorers with 27 points as he went 7-for-12 from three. Calvin Cheek had a near triple-double with 19 points, 9 steals, and 8 assists and added the game-winning three with one second left.
After being down 76-60 with 8:42 remaining in regulation, the Pilgrims outscored Mitchell 32-14. After the game, the all-time series is now 4-3 in favor of the Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims will move on to the NCAA Tournament and find out where and when they play after the selection show on Monday, March 2nd.
2020 NECC Men's Basketball All-Tournament Team
MVP- Calvin Cheek, New England College
Larry McKinney, New England College
Hasani Williams, Mitchell
Leonard Williams, Mitchell
Garrett Crandell, Eastern Nazarene
Jordan Booker, Dean
ABOUT THE NECC
The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 15 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sports. Current members include Bay Path University, Becker College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College.
(Story courtesy of NEC Sports Information)