BOSTON – Behind a Wheelock College men's basketball postseason record 30 points from Nicholas Fenton, the Wildcats held off visiting Mitchell College in their New England Collegiate Conference Championship First Round match-up to win 97-86.
With the victory, its first in the NECC postseason since 2010-11, Wheelock improved to 12-14 and will face top-seeded Southern Vermont College in the semifinals on Thursday, February 23 at 7 p.m. Mitchell closed the season with an overall record of 7-19.
In a high-octane first few minutes there were three lead changes as momentum swung back and forth. Anthony Williams led the home team with six early points while two three-pointers from Brayvon Young kept the Mariners close. With 17:39 to play in the half, Domenico Santiago put the visitors up 10-7 on a lay-up. Just under 30 seconds later, consecutive lay-ins from Williams and Devin Brown pushed Wheelock in front for good.
At the 9:34 mark in the first half, a trifecta by Geary McLeod cut Mitchell's deficit to 28-24. That was as close as the Mariners would get, however, as Fenton responded with a trey of his own and later added a bucket in the paint to stretch the margin to nine. From there, Santiago and rookie Hasani Williams went back and forth with the home team, but the Wildcats maintained a healthy edge and took a 48-38 lead into the break.
About midway through the second stanza, Mitchell made one final rally when a Hasani Williams lay-up and back-to-back baskets by McLeod pulled the visitors to within four at 59-55 with 11:59 on the clock. Still, Wheelock answered back with a free throw and three-pointer from reserve Pablo Tovar sandwiched around a Fenton lay-in that had the home team back up by double digits. The Mariners got no closer than seven the rest of the way as 10 points from Fenton and nine by Anthony Williams helped the Wildcats finish off Mitchell down the stretch.
Fenton's 30 points included 9-of-18 shooting from the field and a 10-for-11 effort at the charity stripe. He finished with a double-double with a game-high 10 assists. Anthony Williams recorded a double-double of his own with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Brown rounded out the double-digit scorers with 19 points while Derek Fournier had eight points and six caroms.
The Mariners were led by Santiago, who recorded a double-double with team highs of 27 points and 16 rebounds. Hasani Williams recorded up a double-double of his own with 16 points and 14 boards while Young added 17 points and shot 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. Mack Bertram-Gregory rounded out the scorers in double-figures with 11 points while Alan Morgan finished with eight points and nine assists.