NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team outscored Connecticut College by 24 points off turnovers and continued its torrid free-throw shooting in downing Connecticut College, 89-77, in a non-conference game Tuesday night at the Charles Luce Field House.
In winning the battle of teams coming off two opening wins apiece, Eastern (3-0) turned the ball over only seven times against Conn (2-1), forced 23 turnovers with the help of 12 steals, and sank 21 of 28 free throws to defeat the Camels for the seventh time in the last nine meetings. The Eastern victory also ended a streak of four straight Conn wins dating back to last year over teams from the Little East Conference.
Led by senior guard Tarchee Brown (Rockville), four Eastern starters scored in double figures. Brown tossed in 13 points in each half en route to a game-high 26 points. He was 5-of-10 from the floor in the first half 5-of-9 in the second. Sophomore guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) followed with 17 points, freshman guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) adding 15 points, and senior guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic) 12.
The Warriors trailed by seven points four minutes into action, but Gonzalez sparked the Warriors to a six-point halftime lead with eight points and four steals in the opening 20 minutes. Freshman forward Matt McKinnon (Newington) and first-year sophomore guard Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) also made key contributions off the bench in the half. McKinnon contributed four points and five rebounds in 13 first-half minutes and Collagan eight points in 14 minutes.
Conn's last lead of the game came with five minutes left in the first half on a conventional three-point play by 6-foot-7 inch freshman forward Dan Draffan. McKinnon answered that by turning an offensive layup into a bucket to tie the game and spark a decisive run of eight straight points to give the Warriors the momentum for good and an eventual 43-37 halftime lead. After McKinnon's tying hoop, Gonzalez stole the ball and Brown scored another inside basket to give the Warriors the lead for good, 35-33, four minutes before the half. Muckle followed with an offensive rebound and putback, and Gonzalez turned another steal into a pair of free throws as the Warriors pushed their lead to six, 39-33.
Freshman Matt McKinnon puts himself between Conn College's Dan Draffan and the basket in the first half of Tuesday's 89-77 win in New London. McKinnon came off the bench for four points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.
Leading by nine points four minutes into the second half, Eastern reeled off ten straight points over three minutes to amass a 19-point, 62-43 advantage with 13 minutes left. In that ten-point surge, four different players contributed points. After going scoreless in six minutes in the first half in a starting role, junior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) converted a pair of inside baskets in that ten-point surge, with Muckle grabbing an offensive rebound and swishing a short jumper, Gonzalez sinking two free throws and Brown driving for two points off a Marquez steal and Gonzalez pass. Hyatt led the Warriors with six rebounds in the game.
Draffan (off the bench) and junior forward Dave Labossiere combined for 41 of Conn's point total on 17 of 23 shooting from the floor (73.9 percent), but the Camels' other four starters missed 15 of 21 field goals (28.6 percent).
Shooting a blistering 88.9 percent from the foul line in their first two games, the Warriors continued their success from the stripe, connecting on 21 of 28 against Conn to leave their season percentage at 83.6. Against the Camels, Gonzalez was 9-of-10 from the line, with Muckle, Collagan and Hyatt a combined 5-of-5.
Eastern opens play in the Colby College Classic Saturday against Montclair State University at 5 p.m.
Below: The Eastern coaching staff offers to point referee Mike Scanlon in the right direction in the first half Tuesday night.