Score: Dean College 85, Wheelock College 79
Records: Dean College (15-10, 9-5 NECC), Wheelock College (5-19, 4-10 NECC)
Location: Winsor School, Boston, Mass.
Date: Saturday, February 17, 2018
Time: 2:00 PM
Dayvon Russell (Naugatuck, Conn.) pumped in 25 of his game-high 27 points in the first half and Dean College wrapped up its regular season with a hard-fought 85-79 triumph over Wheelock College in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) men's basketball action on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs finish their conference slate at 9-5, good for a three-way tie in second place with Becker and Mitchell. However, because it is Dean's first season in the conference and the institution is still in the NCAA provisional phase in their transition to NCAA Division III, they are not eligible to play in the season-ending conference tournament.
Rather, Dean will await a possible invitation to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Tournament. That selection show is scheduled for Monday, February 19 at 5:30 PM.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Russell was the first half catalyst, making ten of his 13 shot attempts as the Dean offense had no trouble finding its rhythm.
At one point in the opening stanza, Russell scored ten straight points as part of a 21-8 run that was capped by a Malik Brown (Miami, Fla.) three-pointer, giving the Bulldogs a 34-20 edge.
Russell continued his offensive onslaught with another three-pointer and when he scored again moments later, the Bulldogs were suddenly in front, 42-29.
Two baskets from Jordan Booker (Waterbury, Conn.) and a three-point play from Russell had it looking as if the Dean would run away for the Wildcats, but Wheelock closed the half strong and when Kadeem Apply knocked down a three-pointer, the game was within reach at 49-37 at the half.
The Wildcats came out of intermission strong, actually pulling in front at 71-70 after five points in a 21 second span.
Dean answered back on a Booker three-point bomb and even though the Wildcats tied the game again, Armani Baker (Pawtucket, R.I.) made back-to-back baskets to give the Bulldogs some breathing room at 77-73.
When Booker and Kiwame Crowder traded baskets with less than a minute left, the game was still in doubt at 81-77 but a Brown basket for Dean pushed their advantage to six with less than 30 seconds to play.
A missed basket for the Wildcats led to Russell's only two points of the second half – a pair of clutch free throws that sealed the win for the Bulldogs with 12 seconds remaining.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
Dean shot 50 percent from the field and held a slight 43-39 edge on the glass.
Crowder actually led all scorers with 28 points, while adding ten rebounds and seven assists in 40 minutes of action.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, were led by Russell's 27 and eight rebounds. Booker totaled 15 of his 19 points in the second half to go along with four rebounds and six assists, while Baker racked up 21 points and ten boards on an extremely efficient 9-for-12 from the floor.
Should the Bulldogs earn a bid into the USCAA Tournament, pool play will begin on Wednesday, February 28 on the campus of Penn State Fayette in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania.