WILLIMANTIC,Conn. – Sophomore guard Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) came off the bench to score five points on a three-point field goal and two free throws in a run of seven straight points that built a ten-point lead with nine minutes left and the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team went on to its ninth straight win, 72-56, over Trinity College in a non-conference game Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Ranked No. 16 nationally, Eastern (18-2) defeated Trinity (13-7) for the eighth straight time. The Bantams lost their third straight to a nationally-ranked team (and face No. 17 Wesleyan at home Friday.
Eastern led by nine at halftime and by 13 three minutes into the second half before Trinity surged back with a 14-4 run – capped by sophomore guard Tim Flynn's three-pointer -- that cut the lead to three, 48-45, eight minutes into the second half.
The Bantams had a chance to tie when the Warriors turned the ball over on their next possession, but Trinity missed three inside shots and lost possession on a shot-clock violation before Eastern senior forward Jacob Collins (Bristol) converted an inside hoop on a pass from senior forward Tarchee Brown (Rockville) that made it 50-45. After the visitors missed a three-pointer, Collagan nailed a three-pointer on another pass from Brown, and following two Trinity turnovers, Collagan swished two free throws that pushed the lead to ten, 55-45, with nine minutes left.
In all, the Warriors used a 20-5 scoring run to pull away from that three-point lead with 12 minutes. Brown sank a corner three-point falling away and Gonzalez followed with a pair of jumpers as the lead crested at 18, 68-50, with 2:30 left.
Averaging 12 turnovers per game, Trinity commited 22 – twice as many as Eastern.
Eastern equaled its fifth-most three-pointers in a game (10) this year, shooting 37.0 percent.
Collagan led four double-digit scorers with 16 points, with Brown adding 12 and Gonzalez and senior guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic) 11 each. Collagan was 3-of-4 from distance and 5-of-5 from the stripe. Gonzalez was 5-of-6 from the stripe and had four steals and three assists and the Warriors canned 16 of 20 free throws, 8-of-9 in the second half. Collins contributed eight points (two three-pointers) and six rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
At right: Before Wednesday's game, senior Kendall Marquez was presented a keepsake for reaching the 1,000-career point plateau a week ago against Western Connecticut. With Marquez is head coach Bill Geitner.
Senior forward Eric Gendron had 24 points for Trinity, but the remaining starters were limited to 16 total points. Gendron was 4-of-6 from distance, with two of his three-pointers coming on his first two shots in the opening two minutes and gave the Bantams their largest lead of five points.
The 18-2 start is the best after 20 games in the program's 78-year history and the win streak equals the second-longest under 16th-year head coach Bill Geitner. The Warriors also captured nine straight last year and ran off 13 in a row en route to a 24-6 finish in 2011/12. That team posted a 16-4 record after 20 games.
Eastern hosts University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 3 p.m. in a Little East Conference game.