FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

November 19, 2005

 

Late Second-Half Surge Lifts Lyons to, 87-82, Victory
Over Rhode Island College and Fifth Wheaton
Tip-Off Tournament Championship

 

NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College men's basketball team assembled an 18-4 run in the closing minutes of Saturday afternoon's championship game of the Wheaton Tip-Off Tournament en route to a thrilling 87-82 victory over Rhode Island College at Emerson Gymnasium.  This afternoon's contest marked a rematch of last year's Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament title game, which the Lyons won, 78-66.  A day after breaking the Wheaton career steals record, senior Sean Kelly (Providence, RI/Wheeler) was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, joining teammate Brian Zukowski (Dracut, MA/Dracut) on the all-tournament team.

 

The opening half was tight the whole way as indicated by the five lead changes.  A Zukowski three-pointer gave the Lyons an early 9-4 advantage, but the lead proved to be short-lived following a dunk by junior John Weir (Danbury, CT/Danbury) with 15:13 to play.  A Kristopher Pedra (Avon, CT/Avon) three highlighted an 11-2 Wheaton run midway through the period that helped move the Lyons ahead, 23-19.  The lead vanished quickly, however, as junior Kinsey Durgin (Greenwood, ME/Telstar Regional) nailed a trey and freshman Kaseem Johnson (New Haven, CT/Hillhouse) sank a jumper to give the guests a slim lead that would hold the rest of the half.  Wheaton senior James Greenslit (Framingham, MA/Rivers) hit a trey with under a minute to go, but Johnson dunked the final bucket of the half and helped the Anchormen to a 44-39 edge.

 

Things looked grim for the hosts in the early going of the second half, as the Anchormen stretched their lead to eight on a Durgin three-pointer with 14:21 to go.  Kelly responded with a lay-up and eventually converted a four-point play, setting the stage for sophomore David Harding's (Hanover, MA/Boston College) lay in at 12:03 and Wheaton's first lead in over 19 minutes of regulation.  The lead shifted back to RIC thanks to a Davon Yarbrough (New Haven, CT/Hyde) conventional three-point play, with the visitors extending their advantage to nine points at 78-69 with 4:42 to play.  After a Zukowski bucket, Harding rattled off five straight points to bring the Lyons to within two and consecutive clutch threes from Kelly and Greenslit put the hosts in front for good with just under a minute to play.  Sophomore Eric Johnston (South Windsor, CT/East Catholic) hit two free throws on the ensuing possession to cap a 15-0 Wheaton run and seal the comeback win.

 

Kelly's 21 points, eight assists and five steals were all game-high or game-high tying totals, as he was followed by Zukowski's 16 points on the afternoon.  Greenslit was 3-of-4 from long range, joining Johnston and Harding with 11 points apiece.  Wheaton's defense was a key component of the game, as the Lyons collectively totaled 16 steals on the night.  Durgin notched 21 points for the Anchormen, while senior Kevin Payette (Woonsocket, RI/Woonsocket) grabbed eight boards and was 7-of-12 from the floor for 18 points.  Johnson added 11 points and seven boards in the loss.

 

Payette was named to the All-Tournament Team.