MILTON, Mass. - The Curry College men's basketball team dropped a 99-79 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) matchup as they visited Nichols College on Saturday afternoon. After the loss, the Colonels' overall record stands at 1-17 while they remain winless in the CCC at 0-9. The Bison improve to 16-2 on the year with a 8-1 conference record as they collect their fifth consecutive CCC win.
Nichols won the opening tip but were unable to score on their first possession. Curry suffered offensive struggles of their own though, giving up a pair of turnovers to start the game, the second of which led to a fast break layup by Nichols junior DeAnte Bruton (New London, Conn.) to start the scoring. Nichols extended this lead to seven before back-to-back threes from Spencer Feng (Keene, N.H.) and Jared Thorpe-Johnson (Dorchester, Mass.) cut the deficit to one. Curry hung tough on the perimeter, but lacking a consistent defensive presence down low, surrendered 30 points in the paint in the first half alone. With 14:15 remaining in the opening frame, Thorpe-Johnson found a darting Kieran Carroll (Greenwich, Conn.) underneath for an easy basket to make the score 14-8. Carroll would again pull the score to within six with a layup at 16-10, but a three pointer by Kash Jackson (Canton, Ga.) would be followed by guard Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.) drawing a foul on Thorpe-Johnson on a drive and converting an old-fashioned three point play.
The Bison continued to extend their lead, keyed by the efforts of sophomore Matt Morrow (Leicester, Mass.) who collected several tough rebounds on the defensive side of the ball to limit Curry's possessions. The Colonels would get to within 12 with 11:57 left on the clock thanks to a triple from Feng, but a four point play by Echevarria followed by an and-1 from Bryce Boggs (Hyde Park, Mass.) on the next two possessions saw the Bison continue to pull away. The Colonels struggled to find the scoreboard, going 1-for-10 over the next six minutes of play, allowing the Bison to stretch out a 41-13 lead with 7:51 left to go until the break. Curry guard Louis Stein (Mount Olive, N.J.) would drain a pair of threes over the next minute to get the Colonels back on track, but a put-back jam from the 6'8" forward Jerome Cunningham (Westbury, N.Y.) put the hosts back ahead by 26. The visitors pulled back to within 18 thanks to another shot from distance by Feng, then followed an answering layup from Jackson with a layup from junior center Dan Quinn (Holbrook, N.Y.) to take a 57-41 score to intermission. Quinn contributed six points in the paint in the half, but the Colonels continued their reliance on the three ball, putting in nine in the half, which contributed for over 65% of their points (27 of 41).
Nichols started the second frame with possession, but coughed it up with a travel to send the ball the other way. The Colonels took over looking to stay vigilant in their comeback effort, but a pair of missed shots from the floor followed by a turnover set the tone for the half and kept Nichols in control. The Bison excited their fans with some skilled ball movement, leading to a Bruton three in space out of a timeout. Curry's shooting woes continued and a pair of fast break layups by Cunningham put the Bison up 72-48. Nichols would work the clock and extend their lead even further on a Morrow layup, but Thorpe-Johnson would catch fire, dropping 11 points over the next five minutes to pull the Colonels back to within 20 at 85-65 after converting an and-1.
The Bison kept the charging visitors at a distance with some timely threes of their own, notably as Bruton found sophomore Nate Tenaglia (Tewksbury, Mass.) behind the arc to go up 93-68. Thorpe-Johnson continued his hot day by converting another three-point play by drawing a foul and swishing the free throw for his 27th, 28th, and 29th points of the day, bringing his second half total to 20. With 2:33 left to play in regulation however, the Colonels' hopes dwindled as Nichols turned to the bench to close out the contest. Curry would pull to within 20, keeping the hosts scoreless over the final two minutes of action, but a time consuming possession including four missed shots from the Colonels wrapped up the game as the Bison secured a 99-79 victory.
Nichols controlled the scorebook throughout the contest, racking up 20 fast break points, 31 points off turnover, and a massive 58 points in the paint. The Bison received double digit scoring efforts from Morrow (10), Jackson (11), Bruton (18), and Cunningham (21), who posted a double-double thanks to his game high 14 rebounds. Burton and Tenaglia led the hosts with four helpers apiece.
Curry's scoring was led by a pair of 20 point scorers in Feng, who put in seven triples for 21 points, and Thorpe-Johnson, who led all scorers with 29 to go along with a team high nine boards, one rebound away from a double-double. Senior guard Alex Stein (Mount Olive, N.J.) topped the board with seven assists while Quinn registered the Colonel's lone block of the afternoon.
Curry will next play at home against Endicott on Saturday, January 26 at 3:00 p.m. in CCC action. Nichols will also resume action against Endicott, as they travel to face the Gulls Tuesday, January 22 at 7:30 p.m. in a rematch of last season's conference championship in CCC men's basketball.