February 19, 2014

Coucci, Williams Lead Men's Basketball to 71-65 Win at Regis in Season Finale

WESTON, MA - Senior swingman Paul Coucci (Dartmouth, MA) (20) and freshman forward Anthony Williams (White Plains, NY) (19) combined for 39 points to lead the Wheelock College men's basketball team to a 71-65 victory over host Regis College in a New England Collegiate Conference contest this evening on Higgins Court in Weston, MA.  The Wildcats finish their season with a 3-22 overall record, including 2-14 in NECC play, while the Pride is now 10-13 and 9-6.

Wheelock's defense held Regis to just 36.2% from the field (25-of-69) and only 4-of-19 three-pointers en route to a 21.1% showing from beyond the arc. The Wildcats shot 25-of-54 from the floor for a 46.3% clip and buried 11-of-23 triples (47.8%) for a total of 185 on the season to establish a new school standard.

Coucci drained six of the team's 11 three-pointers to give him 107 for his career to most past Patsy DiNuzzo (2007-11) by one trifecta into second on Wheelock's all-time list.  The senior also finishes the season with 58 treys for the year for the second-highest total in school history.  He added eight rebounds as well.  Williams was 8-14 from the floor to go with four rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.  The rookie finishes the season with 404 points for the highest point total by a rookie in school annals and the fourth-highest mark for any player in Wheelock history.

Freshman guard Derek Fournier (Johnston, RI) contributed with 12 points, three rebounds, a trio of steals and two assists.  He was 2-2 from three-point range to give him a school-record 76 trifectas on the season.  Senior Andrew Kirkman (Dartmouth, MA) scored a career-high matching nine points in his final collegiate game and added three steals and an assist, while freshman point guard Nicholas Fenton (East Hartford, CT) dropped in eight points, pulled down seven boards, handed out seven assists and came up with a steal.  The first-year guard finishes the campaign by shattering the school's single-season assist mark with 179.

The first half was a back and forth affair as an offensive rebound and put back by Williams made it an 11-8 ball game with 14:49 to play. An Osanto Marc Jr. (Kissimmee, FL) three-pointer as the shot clock expired cut the deficit to 14-13, and a jumper from Sam Jean-Gilles (Melrose, MA) gave the Pride a 15-14 advantage at the 10:19 mark. 

Back-to-back three's from Kirkman staked the Wildcats to a 20-17 lead, and a triple from sophomore forward Joe Reedy (Orlando, FL) with 6:25 remaining followed by another Williams basket gave Wheelock their largest lead of the period at 25-19. Jaren Scrubb (Stowe, VT) checked into the game and knocked down a three to cut the deficit in half, and he later gave the Pride a 26-25 lead to cap off a 7-0 run with a fast break layup. 

Fenton put Wheelock back on top by one with a baseline jumper with just over a minute to play in the half, and Jean-Gilles answered with a three-pointer to give the Pride a 29-27 lead headed into the final 30 seconds. As time winded down, Fenton drove the lane and kicked out to Coucci, who knocked down a deep three in the closing seconds of the half to give the visitors a 30-29 lead headed into the intermission. 

The teams traded baskets at the start of the second half before a Marc Jr. layup followed by a dunk on the fast break from Chris Leak Jr. (New Haven, CT) put Regis on top 43-39 with 14:25 remaining. Fenton made it a one possession game with a jumper, but the Pride got a three from Ahmad Charles (Cambridge, MA) and a jumper from Marc Jr. that forced a Wheelock timeout with the Wildcats trailing 48-41 and 11:43 remaining in the game. 

Out of the break, Coucci connected on a three-pointer to cut it to four, before Leak Jr. slammed home another dunk on a feed from Jordan Monts (Springfield, MA) and Jean-Gilles hit a layup to give the Pride their largest lead of the game at 52-44. Coucci then connected on three-straight three pointers over the next three minutes of play to give the Wildcats a 53-52 lead. Fournier extended it to a 12-0 run with a triple of his own and Kirkman capped off a 14-0 stretch with a running layup to put Wheelock on top 58-52 with 5:54 to play. 

Regis and Wheelock traded blows over the final five-plus minutes of action as the Pride tried to make it a one possession game. Four-straight freethrows by Charles in the final two minutes cut the deficit to 64-61 with just over a minute to play but Regis was forced to foul, and Wheelock hit 7-of-9 freebies down the stretch as the Pride offense went stagnant, and the Wildcats held on for the 71-65 victory. 

Regis won the rebounding battle 48-31, grabbing 23 offensive rebounds and dominating points in the paint 34-16. The Pride committed 14 turnovers to only 12 for the Wildcats and Wheelock turned the 14 missteps into 16 points off turnovers.  

Marc Jr. led the Pride with 20 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Charles added 15 points, eight rebounds, and three steals, while Jean-Gilles also added 15 points to go with six boards. Ethan Peana (Staten Island, NY) grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, and Leak Jr. came off the bench to chip in four points and seven rebounds.

Regis returns to action on February 22 when it travels to New London, CT to take on Mitchell College for their New England Collegiate Conference regular season finale at 2:00 p.m.