Babson Park, Mass. - The Trinity College Bantams continued their march through the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship Tournament with an impressive 79-62 victory over NESCAC rival Bates College in the third round at Babson College's Staake Gymnasium this evening. Trinity, now 23-6, closed the first half with a 15-3 run, while junior guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) scored 20 points and classmate Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) collected 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The Bantams will play in the Elite Eight round tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Babson against the winner of tonight's nightcap between the host Beavers and the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays.
"The guys did a great job defensively, holding down a very good offensive team, and showed alot of resiliency after Bates made some runs in the second half," said Trinity Head Coach James Cosgrove (5th season). "Shay (Ajayi) and the whole team were tremendous on the boards and we took care of the ball much better after halftime."
Trailing, 19-18, with just under seven minutes left in the first half after a free throw by Bates sophomore Marcus Delpeche, six Starks free throws and a three-pointer by sophomore Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.) put the Bantams ahead, 27-19, with 3:44 on the clock. Back-to-back buckets by sophomore forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) put Trinity ahead by double digits for the first time at 31-20, and Turnbull drilled a mid-range jumper and blocked a shot in the final minute to send the teams to the locker rooms with the Bantams leading, 33-22. Starks had 12 points at the break to lead all scorers, while Delpeche paced Bates with seven points. The Trinity defense was intense and effective, holding the Bobcats to five field goals in 25 tries and without a successful three-pointer in nine first-half attempts. The Bantams had 13 fouls and 11 turnovers in the first half, but held a 24-to-16 edge on the boards at halftime.
"Defense is our bread and butter, so we always think defense first. On offense, our big guys are so good, that teams double down on them alot which creates space for us outside and it's up to us to knock them down," said Starks who made four three-pointers in five attempts.
Trinity extended its lead to 15 early in the second half, 39-24, on a foul shot by senior forward Alex Conaway (New Haven, Conn.) less than two minutes in, but Bates rallied to get within six points at 41-35 at the 15:24 mark with an 11-2 run highlighted by seven points by Malcolm and Marcus Delpeche. Treys by Turnbull and junior guard Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.) pushed the Trinity lead back up to 11 at 47-36 less than 90 seconds later, and Trinity maintained a comfortable advantage until a layup by Bobcat senior Bill Selmon and a long ball by classmate Graham Safford made the score, 55-50, with 8:19 on the clock.
Ogundeko answered with a layup to ignite a 10-0 Bantam run, and Trinity led, 65-50, with 4:13 remaining on old-fashioned three-point play by senior tri-captain George Papadeas (Athens, Greece). The Bantams kept their advantage at at least 10 or more until a Safford trey in the final minute pulled Bates to within 71-62 with 58 seconds left. Ajayi went 6-for-6 from the foul line and Starks added a pair down the stretch to finish 8-for-8 from the charity stripe for the game to allow Trinity to increase its lead and empty its bench in the final seconds.
Bates had led for the first 7:48 of the game until a Starks three-pointer tied it at 12-all. Another Starks triple gave Trinity a brief lead at 18-17, before Bates went back ahead on two free throws before the Bantam run to end the half reversed the momentum.
Papadeas scored seven of his nine points in the second half, grabbed five boards, and blocked two shots, while Conaway added six boards for Trinity which finished with a 45-32 rebounding advantage. Safford led Bates with 20 points, four assists, and four steals, while Malcolm Delpeche had 16 points and three blocks. Trinity finished 8-for-13 from beyond the arc and held Bates to just two three-pointers in 20 attempts and a 29.1 overall field-goal percentage (16-55). The Bantams helped themselves at the foul line, making 23 in 27 tries (85.2 percent), and Bates missed 14 of 42 foul shots.
"Rebounding was key for us today. I had alot of them come to me today, but everyone was boxing out and being aggressive," said Ajayi.