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NEC Pulls Away in Second Half vs. MBB

NEC Pulls Away in Second Half vs. MBB

NEW LONDON, Conn. – New England College pulled away in the second half of an 87-68 win over Mitchell College on Saturday afternoon in New England Collegiate Conference men's basketball action at the Yarnall Athletic Center.

The Pilgrims improved to 19-3 overall (12-1 NECC) and extended their winning streak to seven games. Ricky Leonard led all scorers with 24 points while Izaiah Winston-Brooks added 19. Calvin Cheek filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, five steals and two blocks, and Jamal Allen rounded out the NEC scorers in double digits with 14 points.

Steffen Brunson battled foul trouble for most of the game but paced Mitchell (14-8 overall, 8-5 NECC) with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Hasani Williams added a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds while Matt Finke netted 12 points.

In the first half, Mitchell took its largest lead of the day when Finke splashed a triple to make it 21-14 at the 11:37 mark. NEC closed the gap with a 9-2 run over the next four minutes, tying the game at 23-23 on a layup by Cheek.

After falling behind by three late in the half, the Mariners pulled into the lead once again following back-to-back field goals by Williams. However, a three-pointer by Cheek put the Pilgrims on top 39-37 heading into intermission.

Cheek and Winston-Brooks each scored 10 points apiece to lead the Pilgrims in the half. Williams and Finke combined for 22 points for the Mariners, who had three starters sit out extended minutes due to foul trouble.

Five minutes into the second half, a layup by Finke trimmed the Mitchell deficit to two. NEC responded with a 10-2 run over the next 3:30 to extend the margin to double digits. Leonard ignited the spurt with a three-pointer, and Allen capped things off with a jumper and layup as the Pilgrims led 58-48 with 11:33 to go.

Mitchell answered back with buckets from Williams and Domenico Santiago to cut the margin to six. However, NEC seized control by scoring 15 of the next 17 points to go up 19 with 6:07 to play. The Mariners never got closer than 11 the rest of the way, and late free throws bumped the Pilgrims' lead back to 19 by the final buzzer.

Santiago grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds but was held to a season-low six points.

Mitchell will next play at Lesley University on Wednesday, February 6 at 8 p.m. NEC returns to action at home against Southern Vermont College on Wednesday at 6 p.m.