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2015-16 Trinity Men's Basketball Season Recap

2015-16 Trinity Men's Basketball Season Recap

Hartford, Conn. – It another successful season for the Trinity College men's basketball team as the Bantams finished the regular season atop the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and reached the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament for the second season in a row.

Trinity, under the guidance of sixth-year Head Coach James Cosgrove, finished the year with a 19-8 overall record. The team received an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular season in first-place with a 9-1 mark in conference play. Trinity made its ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and clinched the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Championship Tournament for the fourth time in program history and second in as many years. The Bantams took the regular season crown by one games, as Amherst finished second with an 8-2 record.

Trinity ended the year just outside of the Top-25 as the Bantams received three votes in the final poll.

The team saw its season come to an end with a 75-73 loss at the hands of Johnson & Wales in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a game that came down to the last shot. In a game that saw Trinity down 15 at one point, senior captain Shay Ajayi (Brookyn, N.Y.) had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but his shot hit off the front iron as time expired. Junior Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and senior captain Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn.) led Trinity in scoring, each dropping in 17 points with Ogundeko adding a game-high 10 rebounds as well.

Throughout the season, the Bantams ran off three separate winning streaks of four or more games including winning 12-of-14 games to end the regular season. At home this year, the team went 11-2. Trinity won its lone overtime contest, a 96-86 win over the Hamilton Continentals in February. The Bantams were champions of the Harbor Invitational with victories over Maine-Fort Kent and hosts UMass-Boston and repeated as champions of the Trinity Holiday Invitational to close out the 2015 calendar year. Ogundeko was named Tournament MVP at the Harbor Invitational while senior captain Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) joined him on the All-Tournament team. At the Trinity Holiday Invitational, Ajayi and Starks earned all-tournament team honors. Both Hurd and Ogundeko earned All-Tournament honors at the Trinity Holiday Invitational. 

The Bantams had a balanced offensive attack as three averaged in double figures on the year while six players averaged more than five points per game. The Bantams finished ranked No. 6 nationally in field-goal percentage defense at 38.6.  Ajayi led the squad with 13.9 points per game followed by Ogundeko with 13.1 ppg and Starks with 11.7 ppg. Ajayi finished his Trinity career with a monster season as the senior shot 48.3 percent from the field, brought down 7.3 rebounds per game and chipped in a team-high 1.6 steals per game to go along with his 13.9 points per game. Ogundeko led the team with 10.6 rebounds per game, best in the NESCAC, and was fourth in the conference with 1.6 blocks per game. Trinity shot well from three-point range this season as four players shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc, and the Bantams finished No. 18 in the nation in free-throw shooting at 75.4 percent as a squad.

Ajayi earned NESCAC Player of the Year and also was named to the DIII News All-American Second Team and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division III All-American Third Team. Ajayi was also named to NABC All-Northeast District First Team, the All-Northeast Region First Team, the All-NESCAC First Team, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England All-Star Second Team. In a senior year to remember, Ajayi was additionally selected for the Reese's NABC Division III College All-Star Game played on Saturday, March 19 prior to the NCAA Division III Finals in Salem, Va. and scored 16 points with seven boards to help the East All-Stars to a 129-120 victory. Ogundeko was named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year as well as to the All-NESCAC Second Team as he led the Bantams in scoring 10 times and rebounding 20 times this season. He joins Aaron Westbrooks (2008) as the only Trinity players to earn the the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year award.

Hurd, who was fifth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.49) at the end of the year, and sophomore Eric Gendron (Merrimack, N.H.) received NESCAC All-Academic distinction for their hard work in the classroom while Starks represented the Bantams on the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship squad.

Ajayi, Starks, Hurd, and Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.) all concluded their Trinity basketball careers this winter, having helped the Bantams compile a 66-41 record during their tenure. In four seasons together, they appeared in the NESCAC Championship Tournament Semifinals three times and advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament twice, highlighted by the team's Elite Eight run in the 2014-15 season.