Top-Seeded Warriors Katch Keene, Dethrone Little East Champs - Mar 1, 2017
Freshman point guard Carlos Gonzalez (5'10''-PG-97) (Springfield, MA) scored 16 second-half points to lead top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University back from a 13-point first-half deficit for a 72-70 win over second-seeded Keene State College in the championship game of the 2017 Little East Conference tournament Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
With its fourth LEC title win in seven finals appearances, Eastern (20-8) qualifies automatically for the NCAA Division III tournament.
After winning its fourth straight LEC regular-season title this year, Eastern captured its first tournament title since downing Rhode Island College in the 2012 championship game at home. Keene State (19-9) had won the last two LEC titles, both coming on Eastern's home court. The title matchup between the teams was the first.
Eastern trailed by nine at halftime but Gonzalez fueled a second-half comeback by scoring 16 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, going 8-of-9 from the foul line over the final 20 minutes. Sophomore guard Tyrell Arnum (6'6''-G-96) (Bloomfield) had nine of his 13 points in the second half.
Senior tournament MVP Hugh Lindo (6'4''-F-94) (Enfield) battled injuries in the title game to finish with his 19th double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes. The 6-foot-4 inch forward had 11 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks in a semifinal win over UMass Boston. Junior guard Tarchee Brown (6'3''-G-96) (Rockville), the LEC scoring leader was injured with 12 minutes left and did not return. He totaled eight points, six rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.
Keene led for the entire game after the opening minutes before Eastern stormed back. Gonzalez sank two free throws to give the Warriors their first lead of the second half with 43 seconds left and after Jaquel Edwards (6'3''-G/F) of Keene swished one of two free throws to tie the game with 33.8 seconds left, Lindo grabbed the miss and soon after, Gonzalez took a pass from Arnum for the eventual game-winning points on a drive to the basket.
With 5.5 seconds left, Keene in bounded to Ty Nichols (6'3''-F), who drove the length of the court before putting up a runner inside the arc that bounced off the rim. Lindo pulled down the rebound as time expired.
Keene's Jeff Lunn (6'6''-F) had 18 points and six rebounds before fouling out with three minutes left and his team up by four. Matt Ozzella (6'4''-G/F) 15 points and nine rebounds, Jake Collagan (6'1''-G) 13 points and Nichols 11 points and five rebounds. In the Owls' 85-67 semifinal victory over UMass Dartmouth Friday night, Lunn and Nicols combined for 46 points and nine rebounds. Nichols was 8-of-9 from the floor and Lunn 9-of-15.
Gonzalez' heroics Saturday followed an uneventful semifinal win over UMass Boston, when he was scoreless (0-of-6 from the floor) with three assists and two turnovers in just 14 minutes.
Lindo who had 11 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and three steals Friday and concluded the two-game tournament with 23 points, 31 rebounds (11 offensive), ten assists, four block and four steals. He was 7-of-13 from the floor.
Arnum played a large role in the championship, scoring 29 points with six rebounds and six assists. The jump-shooter was 13-of-24 from the floor. Brown totaled 27 points, ten rebounds, six assists and five steals in an average of 29.5 tournament minutes. Sophomore point guard Jaysen Nunez (5'6''-PG) (Hartford) came off the bench Friday for 12 points and six assists and junior guard Kendall Marquez (6'1''-G) (Willimantic) dropped in four three-pointers against UMass Boston.
The win gives Eastern its seven 20-win season in the last eight years.
LEC Tournament Final: Eastern Connecticut State - Keene State 72-70
LEC Tournament Semifinals:
Eastern Connecticut State - UMass Boston 86-58
Keene State - UMass Dartmouth 85-67
Courtesy of GoWarriorAthletic