New London, Conn. – The Trinity College men's basketball team held off a late second-half rally to score an 80-68 victory over Connecticut College in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) action on Saturday afternoon inside Luce Fieldhouse. With their fifth straight victory, the Bantams improved to 18-5 overall and 8-1 in league play, while the Camels dropped to 7-14 on the year and 0-8 in conference tilts. Trinity has clinched the top seed in the NESCAC Tournament for the third time and first time since 2002.
Junior guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) led the offensive attack for the Bantams, scoring a team-high 20 points thanks to knocking down all four his attempts from beyond the arc. The Bantams did a good job distributing the ball as four other players joined Starks in double figures. Junior forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and classmate Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.) each started and scored 11 for the visitors. Sophomore forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was a force in the post off the bench for Trinity, scoring 11 points and grabbing a team-leading eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.) was the other Bantams in double figures as he scored 10 points, highlighted by going 4-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Freshman Alex Tonhazy led the charge offensively for Connecticut College as he poured in a career-high 28 points as he went 9-for-16 from the field and 5-for-7 from long distance. Sophomore forward Zuri Pavlin (New York, N.Y.) was the other Camel to score in double figures as he registered a double-double with 16 points and 21 rebounds in the setback.
Pavlin knocked down a turnaround jump shot with 14:07 remaining in the first half to cap an early 15-3 scoring surge for the Camels. But the Bantams stormed back with a 19-9 run of their own to even things up at 26 when Stark put in a lay-up with 5:23 to play. The Camels responded though and when Pavlin buried a three ball with 3:41 remaining, the hosts enjoyed a 34-27 advantage. Trinity showed its grit, ending the half with a 10-to-2 run to carry a 37-36 advantage into the break after Naylor buried a triple in the closing moments of action.
The Bantams led by as many as 11 points early in the second half and were on top 66-56 when Ogudenko knocked down a jumper with 3:31 remaining in regulation. The Camels never really went away though, and Tonhazy buried a three ball with 2:25 left that made it a 68-63 game. On the ensuing possession, Trinity junior guard Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn. ) answered for the Bantams with a three-pointer from the right side of the arch to push the lead back to 71-63 with 2:16 to play and the visitors were able to hold on for the 80-68 win.
Trinity closes out the regular season next Friday, Feb. 13, with a NESCAC road game versus Middlebury at 7:00 p.m.