NEW LONDON, Conn. – Freshman Ben McPherron (Weston, Mass.) scored 15 points and converted five clutch free throws in the last two minutes to help lift the Connecticut College men's basketball team to a 62-58 victory over Coast Guard on Wednesday evening at the Charles B. Luce Field House. The seesaw battle between the New London schools featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes to decide the outcome.
With the Camels trailing 58-57, McPherron grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3-point field goal attempt by junior Jeff Allen (Madison, Conn.) and got himself to the free throw line for a one-and-one with 1:46 remaining in regulation. McPherron made both shots from the stripe, allowing the hosts to pull ahead by one.
Junior Austin Nwafor (East Hartford, Conn.) then came up with a key steal at the other end, and McPherron eventually added another free throw to give the Camels a 60-58 advantage with 28.4 seconds left. Despite missing one of his attempts, the freshman stole the ball at the other end after Tyler Perez couldn't handle a routine pass and was immediately fouled. McPherron then converted both shots at the other end to put the game on ice.
Coast Guard (3-4) led 15-14 with 14:19 remaining in the first half before the Camels responded with six straight points to pull ahead at the midway point. Following the lead change, both teams couldn't throw the ball in the ocean and combined to miss 19 straight shots from the floor until Madison Maloney drove in for a layup to tie the game at 22s. Garrett Drummond sent the teams to the recess tied at 29-all by canning a jumper from outside the paint.
After eight more lead changes and seven ties over the next 20 minutes, the Camels were able to prevail by getting clutch shooting from McPherron down the stretch and some big stops on defense.
In addition to scoring 15 points, which included sinking 11 of 12 shots at the line, McPherron also grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists. Junior Dan Draffan (Hamden, Conn.) registered a double-double with 21 points and 12 boards, while Allen came just shy of Draffan's feat by finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Perez scored a team-high 12 points off the bench for Coast Guard and blocked three shots. Justin Kane netted 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and Noah Baldez contributed eight points and three assists.
Connecticut College (3-4) will next travel to face St. Joseph's (L.I.) in its last game before final exams on Friday evening. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.