NEW LONDON, Conn. – After leading for the majority of the game, the Mitchell College men's basketball team needed a late basket and timely free throw to post an 84-83 victory over Coast Guard Academy on Saturday afternoon at the Yarnall Athletic Center.
Mitchell's Hasani Williams tied the game at 83-83 with a layup with 2.2 seconds to play. He was fouled on the play, and after a Coast Guard timeout, he calmly sank the go-ahead free throw to put the Mariners back in front for good. The Bears attempted a long pass on the final play of the game but couldn't get off a shot.
Mitchell (3-3 overall) picked up its third win in the series and first since the 2013-14 season. The Mariners also handed the Coast Guard (7-1 overall) its first loss of the season.
Williams finished with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds to go with two blocks and a steal. Domenico Santiago also enjoyed a big day with game highs of 27 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks. Steffen Brunson notched his first career double-double with 17 points and a game-high 10 assists to round out the Mariners in double figures.
Four Bears scored in double digits led by 21 points from Packy Witkowski. Justin Kane contributed 18 points and eight rebounds while Tyler Perez came off the bench to chip in 17 points and seven boards. Noah Baldez added 12 points and four assists.
The Mariners led by as many as eight points in the opening half and trailed for only one possession. After a jumper by Luke Daniels gave CGA its first lead at 22-21, Santiago dropped in a bucket on the other end to give Mitchell the lead back for the rest of the half. Santiago scored 15 points in the stanza as the home team took a 48-42 lead into the locker room at the break.
Mitchell played with the lead for nearly all of the second half, extending the margin to as many as 10 on a Brunson layup with 3:46 to play. However, the Bears quickly cut the deficit in half over the next 34 seconds. Kane got things started with a basket and free throw, and a steal by Baldez led to a layup to make it a 79-74 game.
The Bears kept chipping away and eventually tied the score at 81-81 on a pair of free throws from J.T. Cox with 59 seconds to go. A Mitchell turnover then gave Coast Guard a crack at the lead. Baldez's initial attempt was swatted out of bounds by Williams, but Witkowski made good on the second attempt, dribbling to the foul line elbow and hitting a step-back jumper for the lead.
With 29 seconds remaining, Mitchell brought the ball down the floor for a chance to tie or take the lead. Santiago launched a three that drew iron, but Williams corralled the rebound and the Mariners called timeout with 3.7 seconds to play. On the ensuing inbounds play, Matt Finke (eight points, eight assists) found Williams open underneath for the game-tying layup and foul.
After Williams drained the go-ahead free throw, the Bears called timeout to draw up a plan to go the length of the court. Perez made a long pass to Baldez just outside the three-point arc, and as the latter spun to the hoop he lost his balance and stumbled to the floor as time expired.
Mitchell shot a season-high 52 percent for the game and held a 45-38 advantage on the glass.
Mitchell will next play at Salve Regina University on Tuesday, December 11 at 6 p.m. Coast Guard will take an extended break before returning to action at Shenandoah University on Friday, December 28 at 7 p.m.