SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--The Connecticut College men's basketball team used a late second-half push to best UMass Dartmouth, 77-71, in the opening game of the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic hosted by Springfield College on Friday afternoon.
The win boosts the Camels record to 8-1 on the season, while the Corairs dropped to 7-4. Connecticut College will play in the championship on Saturday at 4:30 against Springfield College, while UMass Dartmouth will play Elizabethtown in the consolation game at 12 noon.
For Connecticut College, Zuri Pavlin (New York, N.Y.) led the way with 19 points and seven boards, while Daniel Janel (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.) produced a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. Both David Labossiere (Stoneham, Mass.) and Lee Messier (Narragansett, R.I.) added 11 points in the victory as the Camels shot 26-for-62 (41.9%) from the floor and held a 41-35 edge on the glass.
"We didn't have our best offensive game but we are all pleased we were able to draw some important charges and grind out a few big stops when we needed them," Connecticut College Head Men's Basketball Coach Tom Satran said.
Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) scored a team-best 18 points for UMass Dartmouth, while Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) came off the bench to net 12 points. The Corsairs owned a 36-28 edge in the paint and used a deep bench to outscore the Camels, 33-21.
Connecticut College opened up the game with a 10-5 lead using back-to-back triples to cap off an 8-0 run at the 16:11 mark. UMass Dartmouth would answer right back, and responded from a 14-9 deficit with an 11-0 surge that featured six points from Matt Craig (Dartmouth, Mass.), forcing the Camels into a timeout with 10:31 on the clock. A steal and finish in transition by Connecticut's Tyler Rowe (East Hartford, Conn.) knotted the game at 22 at 7:04, only to have a driving finish by Chris Mendes (Somerset, Mass.) pushed the Corsairs lead to 28-25. However, an 8-1 burst by the Camels, thanks to five points by Isaiah Robinson (Lynn, Mass.), put Connecticut ahead 33-29 with just over two minutes left in the opening half. The Camels would head into the break with a 35-33 advantage, with Pavlin leading all scorers with 10 points.
Janel scored seven quick points from Connecticut College in the opening two-plus minutes of the second half to put the Camels up 42-35. UMass Dartmouth trimmed the lead to 42-41 on a pair from the line by Robinson at the 15:20 mark, only to have four-straight points by Messier give the Camels a 52-45 cushion at the 11:39 mark. The Corsairs would eventually take a 60-56 lead with 6:24 left in regulation after consecutive jumpers in the paint by Nick Portelance (Fairhaven, Mass.), which capped off a 16-4 run. After trailing by as much as five points, Pavlin took over the game for Connecticut and netted six-straight points, including a deep triple, to provide the Camels a 72-66 lead with 1:31 remaining. The lead would grow to as much as seven and the Camels held on for a 77-71 victory.