Warwick, R.I. – February 17, 2018: The CCRI Knights men's basketball team hosted the Rams of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Saturday afternoon. The Knights came out on top after tireless defensive work and relentless counter attacking with the 88-75 victory. The win improves CCRI's season record to 14-13 overall and 10-1 in conference. This secures a spot in the postseason for the Knights. The Knights also recognized three sophomores prior to their final home game Kevin Paygai (West Warwick, RI), Chris Garcia (Queens, NY) and Igor Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) Saturday afternoon.
After a crucial victory, away to Mass Bay earlier in the week, the Knights came into Saturday's game knowing a win would clinch a place in the postseason. Standing between them and their goal was the STCC Rams. The Rams have enjoyed a good spell in form with three wins out of their last four coming into the weekend. STCC were able to carry some of that momentum into the game versus the Knights. The first half saw several lead changes with the Knights taking their first lead approximately 10 minutes into the first half. Off of Kevin Paygai's steal and quick layup CCRI took the 11-10 lead. Just prior to this, Andrew Ferguson (West Greenwich, RI) had hit back to back threes to draw the game closer. Several more lead changes later and the Knights held a slim 28-26 lead with 5:08 left in the half. A late surge gave CCRI a 43-37 lead as time expired in the first half.
When action resumed, The Rams were able to battle back and even take the lead. Led by a game high 32 points and eight assists from Demetrius Rogers, STCC pushed on strong as late as the 12:52 mark where the game was tied 51-51. After this point, however it was all CCRI. Josh Williams (Atlanta, GA) was able to slam the game closed when with 1:25 left on the clock he received the ball, drove past two defenders and threw the ball down emphatically. A few moments later, the final buzzer sounded and the Knights were victorious 88-75, having successfully clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Sharing the ball has been a theme all season long for the Knights. On the afternoon, CCRI was led by Kevin Paygai's triple-double composed of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals. Also knocking down his shots on the day was J.C. Santos (East Providence, RI) who scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half including four 3-pointers while adding five assists, four steals and three rebounds. Josh Williams chipped in with 19 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals. Co-Captain Igor Almeida added a team-high 11 rebounds, two blocks, two points and a steal. Fellow Co-Captain Chris Garcia chipped in with five points and four rebounds. Andrew Ferguson knocked down three of his six 3-pointers on his way to 11 points adding three steals and two rebounds from the bench. Having depth and diversity in attack will aid the Knights as they make their way into the playoffs but being tough on the defensive side of the ball with prove just as vital. The Knights nearly tripled their average of 8.3 steals per game with 22 on Sophomore Day! Another key to victory was their 43 rebounds which is 15 above their season average per game. Most importantly, all three sophomores played a key role in the Sophomore Day victory. Paygai with the monster triple-double, Almeida who led them in rebounding or the Garcia had all of his points and rebounds during the final critical moments of the game when the Knights needed them most.
UP NEXT: The Knights will travel to Fall River, MA for their last regular season game to face the Bayhawks of Bristol Community College for a 7 p.m. game, Wednesday February 21.
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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.