HARTFORD, CT--Trinity senior guard Jaquan Starks drove the lane and banked in a floater with 9.0 seconds remaining to give the Bantams (9-4) a 76-75 win over the Williams Ephs (8-5). In a wild, exciting game, Trinity was able to make one more big play than the Ephs down the stretch. With the loss, the Ephs are now 0-2 in NESCAC competition.
"I thought in the second half we played really good basketball at both ends of the floor. Everybody that came in the game contributed, and we made some huge plays down the stretch. We just lost our poise on a play or two at the end and that was the difference," said head coach Kevin App.
The first few minutes of the game saw both teams consistently find and convert open looks. With 11:55 remaining, freshman guard Bobby Casey made a reverse layup to pull within one at 18-17. Trinity responded with an 8-0 run to take a 26-17 lead with 8:49 remaining.
The Bantams continued to create good looks on the offensive end and score at a high rate. Hot outside shooting from Casey and sophomore guard Cole Teal helped keep the Ephs in the game.
Trailing 40-31 with just under three minutes to play in the half, Casey drilled a long two and Teal converted a three-point play to pull the Ephs within four of Trinity. The Bantams responded with a 5-0 run of their own, behind a layup by Ed Ogudenko and a three by Jaquan Starks. Casey converted a nice finish in the lane with 26.0 seconds left to make the score 45-38. Trinity would take the 7-point lead into halftime.
Despite only allowing an average of 64.3 points per game to opposing teams so far this season, the Ephs struggled to slow down Ogudenko and the Bantams in the first half. Trinity shot 18 of 35 (51.4%) from the field in the first half, including 16-24 (66.6%) from inside the three-point arc. Ogudenko scored 17 first half points on 8-8 shooting.
Casey and freshman swingman Kyle Scadlock led the Ephs with 10 points.
Williams came out firing on all cylinders in the early going of the second half. The Ephs went on a 13-2 run over the course of the first eight minutes of the half to take a 51-47 lead.
Trinity began to heat up from three, but Williams continued to score consistently to maintain a slim lead over the course of the next few minutes. With 7:21 remaining, Casey drilled a mid-range jumper to give the Ephs a 61-56 lead.
On the next possession, Bantams guard Langdon Neal grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on his shot. After making the first, Ogudenko grabbed an offensive rebound on the next foul shot, and put it back to pull Trinity within three. Williams center Edward Flynn got tangled up at midcourt and was called for a technical foul. Bantams forward Shay Ajayi made one of the two free throws to make the score 61-60. On the ensuing possession, Rick Naylor was fouled on a three point attempt, however he made only one of the three free throws to tie the game at 61, capping off a wild trip down the floor for Trinity.
Trinity aggressively attacked the basket in the closing minutes and got to free throw line several times. Ajayi hit two free throws to take a 72-70 lead with 1:47 remaining, their first lead since Williams took the lead early in the second half. After a key defensive stop for the Ephs, Casey drilled a clutch three from the left wing to give Williams a 73-72 lead with 45.0 seconds left in the game. Ogudenko finished a layup down low to give the Bantams a one point lead, but Ajayi inadvertently fouled Williams guard Cole Teal in the backcourt to send the sophomore to the line for a one-and-one. He hit both to give Williams a 75-74 lead with 15.5 seconds left. On Trinity's final possession of the game, Starks drove the lane and banked in the game-winning basket with 9.0 seconds remaining.
The Ephs did not get a final shot, because Teal lost the ball while trying to call timeout. Under the new rules for the 2015-16 season, only players on the floor can call timeout.
"We told our guards to call timeout if they scored. They tried to, but the refs didn't acknowledge them and the turnover happened. It was unfortunate," said App.
Ogudenko led the Bantams with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Ajayi also contributed 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Scadlock led the Ephs with 20 points while Casey contributed 17 off the bench.
Williams next plays on Tuesday, January 12th at home vs. Johnson State at 7:00 P.M.