LEICESTER, Mass. -- Third-seeded Mitchell College nearly pulled off the upset, but second-seeded Becker College rallied late to earn a 78-73 victory in the semifinals of the 2018 New England Collegiate Conference Men's Basketball Championship on Thursday night at the Leicester Gymnasium.
Samuel Durodola scored 21 points with seven rebounds to lead Becker (15-11 overall), which advanced to the NECC finals for the seventh time in nine seasons. Dewayne Thomas scored 15 points with five boards while Kareem Davis scored 13 points. Jalen Robinson had 12 points while dishing out six assists and coming away with three steals. Antonio White Jr. came off the bench to score 11 points with four rebounds and three assists. Durodola also had two blocks on the defensive end. Collectively, Becker shot 48.4 percent from the floor.
The Mariners (14-13 overall) were led by Domenico Santiago, who had a monster night with 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting, 19 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Steffen Brunson finished with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists while Hasani Williams added 11 points and six boards.
Becker took a 4-2 lead early on off a Thomas lay-up, but Mitchell quickly jumped ahead, leading by as much as 11 before going into halftime with a 41-39 advantage. Santiago had 14 points by the break while Brunson chipped in 11.
In the second half, Becker trailed by nine with 6:50 to go and the score 68-59. But the Hawks fought back with a 16-3 run. White started the rally with back-to-back baskets, and Robinson capped off the run with two free throws with 1:28 to go.
Mitchell trailed by two when a foul put Becker on the line with 16 seconds left. The Hawks made one of two to leave the door open, although the Mariners came up empty on the ensuing tying three. Durodola then put the game away with two free throws with 1.7 seconds left, and Becker advanced.
The Hawks will travel to top-seeded Southern Vermont College on Saturday in a rematch of last year's conference championship game. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.