Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College men's basketball team, coached by James Cosgrove (7th Season), has qualified for the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men's Basketball Championship Tournament for the 15th time and the fourth year in a row. Trinity is seeded No. 5 in the eight-team field and will visit the No. 4-seeded Wesleyan University Cardinals on Saturday, February 18 at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinal round. The Bantams finished the 2016-17 season with a 15-9 overall record and finished tied with the Cardinals for fourth place in the league with 6-4 mark against NESCAC opponents. Wesleyan earned the higher seed due to a 65-61 win against Trinity in January.
Trinity is 2-2 against Wesleyan in the NESCAC Tournament. The two teams last met in the 2015 semifinals with the Cardinals registering a victory. Trinity won two of its last three games to close the regular season and is 4-0 in its last four NESCAC quarterfinal contests. Wesleyan hosts a quarterfinal contest for the first time since 2012, look to advance to the semifinal round for the second time in three years. The winner of the NESCAC Championship Tournament will determine the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Trinity needed a win at No. 13-ranked Middlebury on Saturday to secure a first-round home game in the tournament, but its 97-80 loss to the Panthers combined with Wesleyan's home sweep of Bowdoin and Colby over the weekend resulted in the fourth-place tie between the Connecticut rivals. top-seeded Tufts (19-5, 8-2) plays No. 8-seeded Hamilton (16-8, 4-6), No. 2-seeded Middlebury (21-3, 8-2) hosts No. 7-seeded Bates (15-9, 4-6), and No. 3-seeded Amherst (17-6, 7-3) hosts No. 6-seeded Williams (17-7, 5-5) in the other first round games on Saturday. The highest remaining seed after the quarterfinal round will host the semifinal and final rounds on February 25 and 26.
Trinity battled its way to a 6-5 record in the fall semester, after losing four starters to graduation from a squad that finished at the top of the NESCAC standings the last two seasons, but went 7-2 in January before splitting its final four games to finish 15-9. Five of Trinity's six losses have come against teams currently ranked among the top 25 schools in the nation and three were in overtime. In the loss at Wesleyan on January 14, Trinity senior-captains Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.) combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds, but the Bantams shot just 33.3 percent from the field and 60.9 percent from the foul line.
Trinity leads the NESCAC in scoring defense at 65.5 ppg (23rd in nation) and ranks second to the Cardinals in rebounding margin at +6.3. Ogundeko leads the conference and ranks 17th nationally with 11.4 rebounds per contest, while senior guard Langdon Neal (Chicago, Ill.) tops the conference and ranks 11th in the nation in steals with 2.8 per game. Ogundeko is also third in the NESCAC in field-goal percentage at .572, fourth in scoring with 17.5 ppg, and tied for fifth in blocked shots with 1.5 per game, while Neal is 10th in assists with 3.4 per contest. Junior Eric Gendron (Merrimack, N.H.) is tied for the league lead in free-throw shooting at .843 percent and Turnbull ranks second in the league in three-point shooting at .430 percent. Turnbull and Gendron are averaging 10.6 and 10.4 ppg between them, and sophomore guard Jeremy Arthur (Westbury, N.Y.) adds 9.0 ppg for the Bantam offense.
Wesleyan, coached by former Bantam Joe Reilly (9th Season), is 19-5 and ranked No. 24 in the nation after closing the regular season with a three-game winning streak. Four different Cardinals are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by senior Harry Rafferty (Portsmouth, N.H.) and Joseph Kuo (New York, N.Y.) at 12.9 and 12.4 ppg, respectively, while Kuo adds 7.5 boards per game, and Kevin O'Brien (Tucson, Ariz.) averages 4.3 assists per contest.