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Williams leads Knight to NJCAA Championship Game!
The CCRI Knights men’s basketball team continued their dream season at “Final Four Friday” at the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Tournament. The No.3 seed Knights faced-off against the No.2 seed Bulldogs of South Suburban College form South Holland, IL. The Knights came back from a 16 point deficit to defeat the Bulldogs 83-78 in overtime. With the victory the Knights improve to 31-4 on the season the best record in program history and advance to the NJCAA Division II Championship for the first time ever. They made the DIII Championship game in 1991 under Vin Cullen where they fell to Herkimer. The Knights will face heavy tournament favorite Bears of Mott Community College from Flint, MI who defeated Lakeland Community College from Kirtland, OH 84-73 in the second “Final Four” game. The Knights will play their 1,300thgame in program history (905-394) for the DII National Championship game Saturday at 8:30pm EST (7:30 CST).
This game definitely fit the moniker “March Madness.” The Bulldogs came out of the gate shooting the lights out, led by Sultan Muhammed who sank four 3-pointers to give the Bulldogs a 14-2 lead at the 14-minute mark. The Knights cut the lead to seven, only to have South Suburban increase it back to 12 points 32-20 with six minutes left in the half on two Michael Harris free throws. However, Desmond Williams (Torrington, CT) was on a mission and closed the half with ten consecutive Knights’ points to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to five points by the half 37-32. Williams led the Knights in the first half with 13 points, six rebounds and three steals followed by Isaac Medeiros (Johnston, RI) who added eight points and five rebounds in the half.
In the second half the Knights got in trouble again, falling behind by 16 points 53-37 on a 3-pointer by DeAndre McCamey with 15 minute left in the game. From there, the Knights went into their patented 1-3-1 press that stifled the Bulldogs as they swarmed every ball creating turnover after turnover. With 8:26 left in the game, the lead was just three points 59-56 after two Williams free throws. The Knights took their first lead of the game with 4:20 left on a free throw by Co-Captain Trevor Mabry (Norwich, CT) making the score 64-63 CCRI. However the Bulldogs fought back to take a 69-66 lead on the Knights with 2:12 left. However a free throw by Bryan Yarce (Cranston, RI) and two quick baskets by Williams to give the Knights a 71-69 lead with just 43 seconds left in the game. Both teams missed a few baskets including the Knights with a chance to ice the game, but to no avail. With 6.4 seconds left the Bulldogs had the ball, called a timeout to set-up a last second play. They executed and excellent dribble-drive and kick by Bryce Walker to Keenan Williams to score a game-tying basket with just 1.9 seconds remaining sending the game into overtime tied 71 -71.
In overtime the Bulldogs drew first blood with an old fashion three point play by Bryce Walker to give them a 74-71 lead, a minute into the extra period. They followed with another 1-2 free throw attempt to increase to 75-71 after Knights’ floor General Bryan Yarce fouled out with 3:41 left in OT. The Knights went to their horse Roger Livramento (Central Falls, RI) who converted his own three point play to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 75-74 with 3:11 left in OT. Then Williams was at it again, converting two Knights’ baskets to give the Knights a 78-75 lead with 1:33 left in OT. Livramento went 1-2 from the line to extend the lead to 79-75, then on the missed second shot, Williams stole the ball and converted anther Knights basket to give the Knights a 81-75 lead 25 second left. But Marcus Lewis hit a 3-pointer with 10.6 left to cut the lead to three points, so the game was not over. They fouled Williams who went to the free throw line, shooting 21 of 22 at that point in the game, and he missed back-to-back from the charity stripe, but got his own rebound by out-hustling all the Bulldogs and was fouled again with 6.4 left and sank 2-2 to ice the game 83-78, the Knights win!
Leading the way for the Knights (using CCRI coaching staff statistics not tournament stats) was Desmond Williams with a crazy double-double and just missed a triple-double. He scored a career-high 41 points, including 23-26 form the free throw line with 12 rebounds and career-high nine steals, three assists and a blocked shot. Williams had 13 points in the first half, 20 in the second and eight of the Knights’ 12 points in overtime. He was helped by “Mr. double-double” Roger Livramento who scored 11 points and ripped down 17 rebounds with two blocked shots while battling through many physical ailments to sacrifice for his teammates. Also scoring in double-figures for the Knights was Co-Captain Trevor Mabry with 11 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot and Isaac Medeiros added 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Rounding-out the Knights’ attack was Steve Bevilacqua (West Greenwich, RI) who came off the bench to spark the Knights with two big 3-pointers in the second half. Bevilacqua’s six points gave the Knights another outside scoring threat besides Williams and kick-started the Knights’ second half comeback, his only shots of the game.