WATERVILLE, Maine – Senior guard and tournament MVP Tarchee Brown (Rockville) scored ten of Eastern Connecticut State University's first 12 points in the second half to spark an opening 12-2 run, and sophomore guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) scored the game's final five points as the Warriors won the battle of 4-0 teams with an 83-77 victory over Colby College in the championship game of the Colby College Classic Sunday afternoon at Wadsworth Gymnasium.
In winning its second tournament title in eight days, Eastern led 17-4 early in the game and 55-44 five minutes into the second half, but Colby rallied to tie the game with seven minutes left and later took a one-point lead, 74-73, with two minutes remaining. The Warriors outscored Colby 10-3 the rest of the way, however.
After Matt Hanna's three-pointer pulled the Mules to within one, 78-77, with just under a minute left, Gonzalez hit a layup and free throw to make it 81-77, with 26 seconds left, and after an Eastern timeout, stole the ball and scored inside the final ten seconds to guarantee the win.
Brown, also named MVP last weekend at WPI, led all scorers with 25 points to move into fourth place all-time at Eastern with 1,483 career points. He was 10-of-15 from the floor and added four rebounds and two assists. Gonzalez – who joined Brown from Eastern on the all-tournament team -- had 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, eight assists and four rebounds, freshman guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and five rebounds and senior guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic) 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Marquez, Muckle and Brown combined to sink nine of 15 three-pointers.
Colby led only three times in the game for a total of 68 seconds – all in the second half – twice by a point and once by two points when Tucker Wallace converted a pair of free throws with three minutes left to give the White Mules a 73-71 lead. The Warriors tied the game on sophomore guard Jake Collagan's (Wethersfield) jumper and re-gained the lead, 73-71 with 2:29 left, on a steal by Gonzalez and Brown put-back. The basket off the miss was Eastern's only second-chance field goal in two tournament games.
Ethan Schlager's three-pointer on Colby's next possession provided the hosts with their final lead, 74-73 before Brown countered with two free throws to fuel Eastern's final 10-3 scoring run. After the freebies, Colby turned the ball over and senior forward Jacob Collins (Bristol) was fouled on the rebound and hit the back end from the line (the Warriors' third second-chance point of the tournament) to give Eastern a 76-74 lead. The Mules missed again with just over a minute left, and Gonzalez grabbed the rebound and fed Collagan inside as Eastern pushed the lead to four, 78-74, with 67 seconds left.
Eastern got out quickly in the game, opening up a 13-point lead five minutes into play. While the hosts were missing five of seven field goals and turning the ball over twice, Eastern was 6-of-8 from the floor with only one turnover in its opening 17-4 rush. Colby inched its way back, however. After Muckle's basket from distance made it a 12-point game, Colby got back into it by scoring six in a row to cut the deficit in half, and back-to-back three-pointers from Sam Jefferson tied the game at 33-all with four minutes left in the half.
As it did in Saturday's 72-55 first-round victory over Montclair State, Eastern took the initiative in the second half with an opening 12-2 run. Brown opened the frame with a conventional three-point scoring play and followed after a Colby miss with a three-point field goal to give the Warriors six quick points. He followed later with two inside baskets to make it 55-44 five minutes into the half, but Colby answered with its 18-7 run that tied the game at 62-all with seven minutes left.
Colby got 21 points from Schlager to lead three double-figure scorers.
In the tournament, Brown had 47 points on 17-of-28 field goal shooting (6-of-7 from "three"), eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals, playing all but five minutes. Gonzalez had 22 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds and seven steals in an average of 31.5 minutes, and was 8-of-10 from the stripe.
Matching its best start after its first five games under 16th-year head coach Bill Geitner, Eastern looks for its sixth straight season-opening road victory Saturday when it visits Rhode Island College at 3 p.m. in its Little East Conference opener at the Murray Center. The Warriors have won the last four and five of the last six LEC regular-season titles. Eastern last won its first six games in 1993-94 on the way to a 14-10 finish in the last of E-Club Hall of Fame coach Dan Switchenko's 13 seasons.