Hartford, Conn. – Senior tri-captain center George Papadeas (Athens, Greece) scored 10 of his team-high 12 points after halftime and added a team-high seven rebounds, as the Trinity College Bantams gutted out a 60-55 victory over the visiting Colby-Sawyer College Chargers in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Tournament this evening on Ogrodnik Court in Ray Oosting Gymnasium. The Bantams improve to 21-6 and will host the Salisbury University Sea Gulls, who downed Eastern Connecticut, 66-54, in the other first round game tonight at Trinity, in the NCAA Second Round tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Trinity came back from a 24-8 deficit in the first half, taking its first lead of the game at 35-34 almost five minutes into the second stanza on a second-chance basket by sophomore forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and closing it out with a 7-2 run over the final three minutes.
"When we were down, 24-8, it struck me that we (the seniors) might be playing our last game at Trinity, and I think we just had enough pride not to go out like that," said Papadeas. "Coach Cosgrove told us in the huddle that if we played our game the way we can, this team would not beat us and that gave us confidence. We needed to wake up, and we did. We played our game in the second half against a good team that gave a great effort against us. "
Colby-Sawyer came out red hot, using a 12-2 run that included a pair of three-pointers by junior forward Jake Maynard (Shelburne, Vt.) to take a 16-6 lead 6:24 into the game before a jumper by Trinity sophomore Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.) at the 12:52 mark, and adding an 8-0 spurt to take its largest lead at 24-8 on two treys by junior guard Wol Majong (Manchester, N.H.) at the midpoint of the first half. The Bantams answered by scoring seven points in a row, cutting their deficit to 24-15 at the eight-minute mark on a put-back by junior forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.). Senior forward Alex Conaway (New Haven, Conn.) made a jumper from the right baseline with 19 seconds left to make the score, 30-23, but Majong answered as time expired with a bucket from just inside the arc on the right wing for a 30-23 Charger lead at the break. Majong and junior center Peter Donato (Portland, Maine) each had 10 points at halftime for Colby-Sawyer, while junior guard Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn.) paced Trinity with eight.
Trailing, 33-25, after a Majong free throw 1:23 into the second stanza, Trinity scored of the game's next 11 points including the last four by Ajayi to pull within a point at 35-34 with 14:32 on the clock. Ogundeko gave Trinity the lead less than a minute later and the game remained a one-point affair until a long ball by Charger senior guard Zach Bean (Scarborough, Maine) at the 8:51 mark put the visitors ahead, 44-41. Trinity junior guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) and Papadeas combined to score every point of a 10-0 Bantam run over the next 1:49, however, and Conaway put the Bantams ahead, 53-47, with 5:37 on the clock with a dunk off a dish by Papadeas. Senior guard Koang Thok (Portland, Maine) answered for Colby-Sawyer, scoring four of six Charger points including the game-tying drive to make the score 53-all with 3:12 remaining. Hurd made assists in traffic to both Ajayi and Papadeas to put Trinity ahead, 57-53, with 1:58 left, and added a steal on the ensuing Charger possession. Ajayi made a pair of free throws and senior tri-captain guard Hart Gliedman (New Yrork, N.Y.) made one of two from the foul line to preserve the Bantam victory down the stretch.
Four Bantams finished in double figures in scoring, as Conaway and Starks had 11 points and Ajayi added 10 to join Papadeas. Ajayi also grabbed six rebounds and made three steals, while Hurd dished five assists and made four steals. Donato led all scorers with 21 points to go with a game-high nine boards and two blocks, while Majong had 11 points but just one after halftime, and added eight assists for Colby-Sawyer. Trinity shot 41.2 percent from the floor and had 24 second-chance points, but mad only three of 19 attempts from three-point range. Colby Sawyer was 5-for-20 from long range but 1-for-10 in the second half.
"The guys really stepped up in the second half, taking it right at them and making things happen," said Trinity Head Coach James Cosgrove. "We knew they were a good team and very different, more athletic than we are used to playing against, and once we adjusted to what they were doing, we were much better off. Hart Gleidman and Rick Naylor did a great job on Majong in the second half defensively, and a bunch of different guys made plays to help us win. We will need to play 40 minutes tomorrow like we did in the second half tonight."