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Trinity Men's Basketball Traveling To Tufts This Weekend For NESCAC Final Four

Trinity Men's Basketball Traveling To Tufts This Weekend For NESCAC Final Four

Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College men's basketball team, which downed the Wesleyan University Cardinals, 51-49, in dramatic fashion in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship Quarterfinals over the weekend, advanced to the NESCAC Semifinals at Tufts University on Saturday, February 25.  The No. 5-seeded Bantams, coached by James Cosgrove (7th Season), are now 16-9 and will face the No. 2-seeded Middlebury College Panthers (22-3) in their semifinal on Saturday at 4 p.m. following the other semifinal featuring top-seeded Jumbos (20-5) and No. 6-seeded Williams (18-7) at 2 p.m. The semifinal winners will play in the NESCAC Championship Finals on Sunday, February 26 at noon.  The winner of the NESCAC Championship Tournament will determine the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Trinity is in the semifinals for the fourth straight season, and seeks its first appearance in the championship game since winning the title in 2008.  Trinity hosted the NESCAC Championship Final Four as the top seed and reached the finals in its first two seasons of existence in 2001 and 2002, won the league tournament in 2008, and has reached the NESCAC Semifinals 11 times.  In 2014-15, Trinity downed Colby as the No. 1 seed, 66-63, in the NESCAC Quarterfinals but lost to eventual champion Wesleyan, 55-52, in the semifinal round.  Last winter, the Bantams against defeated, Colby as the top seed, 71-60, but were beaten by Middlebury, 70-58, and the Panthers went on to won the league title.  The Bantams are 1-2 against the three other teams in the field this weekend, having downed Williams on the road, 65-63, and owning a 78-75 overtime loss to Tufts and a 97-80 setback against the Panthers.  Trinity battled its way to a 6-5 record in the fall semester, after losing four starters to graduation, but went 7-2 in January before splitting its final four regular-season games. Four of Trinity's losses have come against teams currently ranked among the top 25 schools in the nation and three were in overtime.  

Senior co-captain Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored with two seconds left to lift the Bantams to victory over Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. Trailing, 47-41, with 4:48 left in the game, junior Eric Gendron (Merrimack, N.H.) scored six straight points to tie the game up, 47-47, with 2:18 remaining. The teams traded baskets and Wesleyan missed a layup and pair of free throws to give the Bantams some life. Trinity sophomore Jeremy Arthur (Westbury, N.Y.) drew an offensive foul, giving possession over to the Bantams with 17 seconds remaining, and Ogundeko knocked down the short jumper for the game-winning basket. Gendron led Trinity in scoring with 13 points, including 11 in the second half, to go with five rebounds, while senior co-captain Chris Turnbull (Ridgewood, N.J.) had 12 points and six boards, and Ogundeko finished with eight points, a game-high 13 boards, and three blocked shots. 

Trinity leads the NESCAC in scoring defense at 64.9 ppg (16th in nation) and ranks second in rebounding margin at +6.5. Ogundeko has been Trinity's go-to guy, leading Trinity in scoring 12 times and in rebounding 21 times including each of the team's last 13 games. He averages a double-double of 17.1 points (5th in NESCAC) and a league-leading 11.5 rebounds per game (17th in nation). Senior guard Langdon Neal (Chicago, Ill.) tops the conference and ranks 12th in the nation in steals with 2.7 per game and is 10th in assists with 3.3 per contest., while Ogundeko is also fifth in blocked shots with 1.5 per game and sixth in the NESCAC in field-goal percentage at .559.  Gendron leads the league lead in free-throw shooting at .846 percent and Turnbull ranks third in the league in three-point shooting at .424 percent.  Turnbull and Gendron are averaging 10.7 and 10.6 ppg, respectively, and Arthur adds 8.7 ppg for the Bantam offense.  At Middlebury on February 11, Arthur made four three-pointers on his way to 19 points, while Ogundeko totaled 14 points and nine rebounds, and Gendron scored 11 points.

No. 9-ranked Middlebury, coached by Jeff Brown, downed Bates, 88-84, in its quarterfinal game. This weekend's rematch of last year's semifinal represents Middlebury's ninth appearance in the NESCAC Final Four in ten seasons.  Senior Matt St. Amour, who scored a career-high 34 points against Bates, is the leading scorer in the NESCAC at 22.2 points per game and has made a league-best 97 three-pointers (41.8 percent) this season. The Panthers also boast the top two assist leaders in the conference in senior Jake Brown (6.4 apg), who has missed the last few games with an injury, and junior guard Jack Daly (6.1 apg).  Trinity is 1-2 against the Panthers in the NESCAC Tournament, as the Bantams won, 72-63, in the league semifinals and the Panthers won, 56-52, in the 2010 quarterfinals.  The Panthers are currently also No. 2 in the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional Rankings.

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