NEW LONDON, CT – Junior guard Tyler Rowe (East Hartford, CT) sank a pair of late free throws en route to a game-high 22 points to go along with five assists as the Western Connecticut State University men's basketball team escaped with a 97-94 non-league victory at Mitchell College on Tuesday night. With the win, the Colonials improved to 4-3 overall while the Mariners fell to 2-4.
Junior forward Rashard Rodriguez (Trumbull, CT) added 19 points, while classmates Geary McLeod (Meriden, CT) and Aaron Samuel (Stratford, CT) chipped in with 15 and 13, respectively for the visitors. Hasani Williams and Domenico Santiago led Mitchell with 18 points apiece.
Despite allowing the Mariners to shoot a scorching 35-of-61 (57.4%) from the floor, the Colonials forced 22 turnovers while allowing just 12 in a tightly contested game that featured 28 lead changes.
WestConn jumped ahead early when Rashard Rodriguez knocked down a three-pointer less than four minutes in to give the Colonials an early 12-8 lead. The squads would continue to exchange hoops throughout the first half before WestConn entered the break with a 58-55 lead.
Rowe drained a trifecta early in the second half, widening the gap to 68-62. However, Mitchell responded with a 10-0 run capped off by a three-pointer from Mack Bertram-Gregory to seize a 72-68 lead with midway through the half.
The teams continued to exchange blows before Santiago hit a layup to put the hosts ahead 89-85 with 4:58 remaining.
However, the Colonials retaliated with a 10-4 flurry. Rashard Rodriguez ignited the spurt when he canned a corner shot from beyond the arc. Moments later, sophomore Fenton Bradley Jr. (Mansfield, CT) soared down the lane to snag an offensive rebound as it rolled just off the rim and stuff home the two-handed dunk. Samuel rounded out the barrage with a baseline jumper from downtown after Rowe drove into the paint and kicked the ball out, giving WestConn a 95-89 advantage.
The Mariners would hit a pair from the charity stripe with 14 seconds left on the clock, cutting the deficit to 95-94. They were then forced to foul Rowe who calmly stepped to the stripe to sink the final two points of the game, sealing the 97-94 win.
"The first half was fast and furious. But we hung in there and made some plays to leave the court with the victory," said Colonials head coach Jason Harlow after his squad notched its third consecutive win.
WestConn returns to action for a conference matchup at UMass-Dartmouth on Saturday at 3 p.m.