Warwick, R.I. – February 15, 2018: The CCRI Knights men's basketball team traveled to Wellesley Hills, MA to face the Buccaneers from the Massachusetts Bay Community College (Mass Bay) Thursday evening. A tightly contested game the entire stretch went way of the Knights with a late bucket providing the 70-69 victory. This win improves CCRI's record to 13-13 overall and 9-1 in conference play.
The CCRI Knights, needing to get two wins from their remaining three games knew what was at stack Thursday evening. However, the first 20 minutes of the contest didn't possess the usual pace that CCRI brings. The Knights came out of the gates slow and lethargic, almost jet-lag like. Yet, the Knights found themselves trailing at halftime by only two points, 29-31.
During the halftime team talk, it was apparent something needed to change. The Knights came out in the second half in a 1-3-1 formation to put more pressure on the perimeter shooters. This seemed to provide the needed boost as less than three minutes in CCRI found themselves now leading the Buccaneers by one point 37-36. With 10:46 left on the clock the Knights had stretched the lead to 11 points, 56-45. Mass Bay would not go quietly. Buccaneer Joe Sullivan would hit five second half threes and bring the game back to level, 68-68 with 21 seconds left in the game.
CCRI came out looking to take the last shot but Mass Bay was able to steal the ball and drive the length of the court where Didier Mathelier went for the layup but Igor Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) took one for the team fouling Mathelier. That was Almeida's fifth personal and fouled out of the game. The Knights called a timeout to draw up a potential play for a rebound. Mathelier made the first but missed his second free-throw. With the Knights trailing 69-68, Chris Garcia (Queens, NY) acted quickly, grabbing the rebound and finding Josh Williams (Atlanta, GA) in space. Williams drove the lane as he has done all year and through traffic was able to score the layup with a mere 3.5 seconds remaining in the game, Knights leading 70-69. Mass Bay had one last chance and Colin Myers was the Buccaneer target for the last shot. Myers received the ball but Kevin Paygai (West Warwick, RI) came up with the crucial block as time expired.
Another balanced effort saw four Knights in double figures for scoring. Sharpshooter Andrew Ferguson (West Greenwich, RI) went 6-9 from beyond the arc leading the Knights with 18 points. J.C. Santos (Eat Providence, RI) added in 15 points as well as six rebounds, five assists and one steal. Igor Almeida chipped in with 11 points while adding six rebounds and two steals to the tally. Kevin Paygai dropped 14 points, six assists and two blocks. Paygai continues to lead the team in rebounding with an average of 8.4 per game. Against Mass Bay he secured a whopping 13 rebounds. Josh Williams had another impressive game but in a different style than what we are used to seeing. The highlight of his evening is obviously the late layup, yet that was only Williams' second bucket of the game. Williams has 525 points on the season, good for 14th in the nation and averages 20.2 points per game, good for 26th in the nation. Yet it was a separate stat category which he shined on the night. Williams has produced 139 assists on the year which is good for 22nd in the nation. On Thursday evening, he dished out a team high six while also adding five rebounds and two steals to his four points. Chris Garcia added depth from the bench, scoring eight points and snagging nine rebounds. The team effort and willingness to play selfless ball will serve the Knights well the remainder of the season and hopefully well into the playoffs.
Head Coach Rick Harris: "Sometimes you would rather be lucky than good. We were running in beach sand at times tonight and Mass Bay played fantastic. I credit Josh Williams for imitating Tyus Edney's coast to coast drive back in the  NCAA Tournament, the last year the [UCLA] Bruins won it all."
UP NEXT: The Knights will host the Rams of Springfield Technical Community College from Springfield, MA at 1 p.m. on Saturday February 17 for Sophomore Day. A win will secure a playoff berth for the Knights!
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The Community College of Rhode Island, New England's largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 15,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.