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Trinity Men's Basketball Qualifies For Ninth NCAA Tournament, Bantams Open Against JWU At Plattsburgh State

Trinity Men's Basketball Qualifies For Ninth NCAA Tournament, Bantams Open Against JWU At Plattsburgh State

Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College men's basketball team, which is 19-7 after a 70-58 loss to Middlebury in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Semifinals on Saturday, has qualified for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament for the ninth time and the second year in a row.  The Bantams, coached by James Cosgrove (6th Season), will open tournament play against Johnson and Wales on Friday, March 4, and will face the winner of Friday's Plattsburgh State/Fitchburg State game on Saturday, March 5 with a win on Friday.  All three games will take place at SUNY Plattsburgh in New York.

Game Notes

Trinity, which finished at the top of the NESCAC with a 9-1 conference record for the second season in a row, will be making a repeat appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning three tourney games and falling to Babson, 76-69, in overtime in the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2014-15. Trinity owns a 11-9 all-time record in the tourney and has been to the second round five times, the third round and quarterfinals three times each, and the Final Four in 1994-95. The Bantams, which downed Colby-Sawyer, 60-55, in the opening round, Salisbury, 60-47, in the second round, and Bates, 79-62, in the third round last year, joins Amherst, Middlebury, and Tufts as representatives from the NESCAC to make the tournament field. Trinity has a 3-4 record against the 62 teams in the tourney, having won, 88-76, at Tufts and, 83-65, against Keene State, having lost, 79-74 to Susquehanna on a neutral floor, 70-54, 81-73, at Plattsburgh State, and 89-82, against Amherst, and owning a 1-1 split in two home games against Middlebury (97-86, 58-70).  Johnson and Wales did not face any teams in the NCAA Tournament field, and the Wildcats and Bantams have three common opponents.  Both teams defeated Elms this winter, Trinity won once against Anna Maria and the Wildcats swept the Amcats, and Johnson and Wales won against Eastern Connecticut while the Bantams lost to them on the road.

Trinity defeated Colby, 71-60, in the NESCAC Quarterfinals and had a five-game winning streak before Saturday's setback against the eventual NESCAC Champion Panthers over the weekend. Trinity fell victim to a poor shooting night on Saturday, as senior forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) had 11 points, four rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.  Bantam junior forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) contributed seven points, a team-high nine rebounds, and four blocked shots, and first-year F/G Jeremy Arthur (Westbury, N.Y.) added nine points and five rebounds off the bench.  Trinity leads the NESCAC in field-goal percentage defense at .385 (4th in nation) and rebounding margin at +6.6 (24th in nation), while ranking second in scoring defense at 67.3 ppg and in free throw shooting at .750 (24 in nation).  Ogundeko leads the conference with 10.6 per contest, while Ajayi is tied for sixth with 7.3 per game. The Bantams are averaging 77.5 ppg and Ajayi leads the squad with 14.0 ppg (12th in NESCAC) followed by Ogundeko with 13.0 ppg (14th in NESCAC). Senior guard Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn.) is tied for third among NESCAC leaders with 4.9 assists per contest and ranks fifth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.53, while Ogundeko and Ajayi are fourth and ninth, respectively, in the league in blocks with 1.5 and 1.0 per game, and Ajayi is also tied for third in steals with 1.6 per contest. Senior guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) is third in the league from the foul line with a .859 percentage and averages 11.8 ppg, while sophomore swingman Eric Gendron (Merrimack, N.H.) ranks sixth in three-point shooting at .433, and Ogundeko is 10th in field-goal percentage at .514.  Senior captain Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.) is solid defensively on the wing and averages 5.8 ppg to round out the starting lineup, but the Bantams boast 11 players averaging over 10 minutes per contest.  Gendron, junior guard Langdon Neal (Chicago, Ill.), junior swingman Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.), and rookies Arthur, Connor Merinder (Andover, Mass,.), and Erick Santana (Union City, N.J.) give Trinity one of the top second units in the region.

Coached by Jamie Benton (12th Season), No. 12-ranked Johnson and Wales will be making their third trip to the Big Dance and the first since 2011 due to their Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) title. That year the Wildcats defeated Ramapo, 114-106, for the first NCAA tournament victory in JWU history. This will be the first meeting between Johnson and Wales and Trinity.  The Wildcats set a school record with 26 wins, leading the country with a 26.5 ppg. scoring margin while ranking in the top 20 for both scoring offense, scoring defense and steals.  GNAC Player of the Year, Quarry Greenaway (Westchester, N.Y.) is fourth in the country at 26.1 points per game, while senior guard Tom Garrick (Seekonk, NY) is scoring 22.4 ppg.

NCAA bracket 

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