HENNIKER, N.H. – Calvin Cheek and Larry McKinney combined for 46 points, as the New England College men's basketball team advances to the New England Collegiate Conference Championship Game after they defeated Dean College 92-79 in a New England Collegiate Conference Semifinal match-up, Thursday evening.
With the win, the Pilgrims improve to 20-6 overall, while the Bulldogs season comes to a close at 12-15.
The Bulldogs opened the game with a deep three from NECC Offensive Player of the Year Jordan Booker. The Pilgrims responded quickly with three of their own as both teams continued to trade baskets leading to a 9-8 lead for Dean five minutes in. From there New England College slowly gained momentum as they held a 21-18 lead 10 minutes in. The Pilgrims maintained their lead but the Bulldogs hung around as the score was pushed to 34-28 with five minutes to play in the half. Despite the efforts from Dean, New England College was able to build on their lead with strong defensive play and capitalizing off turnovers. The Pilgrims went into halftime up 48-41. New England College had no trouble getting to the basket as half of their points came in the paint in the first half.
The Bulldogs came out hot in the second half as they went on an 11-2 run to claim the lead at 52-50 four minutes in. The Pilgrims came roaring back with a 15-2 run for a 65-54 lead with 11:15 to play. Things then evened out as New England College maintained their lead at 74-67 with just over seven minutes left in the game. The game was hotly contested down the stretch with both sides hitting tough shots and the Pilgrims still in front 80-74 with 3:33 left in the game. Dean was able to keep pace most of the game but New England College was able to make two big stops late and capitalize on them for an 89-77 lead with 51 seconds left. The deficit proved to be too much as the Pilgrims claimed a 92-79 win and punched a ticket to the NECC Championship.
Larry McKinney recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jordan Booker led all scorers with 40 points for the Bulldogs and added 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
The Pilgrims will host Mitchell College in the NECC Championship Game on Saturday, February 29th.
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)