Warwick, R.I. – February 14, 2019: The CCRI Knights men's basketball team hosted the No. 4 nationally ranked Bristol Community College Bayhawks Wednesday evening. An impressive back and forth game with CCRI leading early and Bristol taking the lead for most of the second half ended with the Knights on top 89-85. The win improves CCRI's season record to 24-3 overall and 21-2 in Region XXI play.
The CCRI men's basketball team faced their toughest test in February as Bristol CC came to the Vincent A. Cullen Field House Wednesday evening. The game, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening and pushed back due to inclement weather, promised an epic battle between the No. 7 Knights and No. 4 Bayhawks. Bristol came into the game 23-2 overall and 21-1 in Region XXI play.
The game started out slightly slower paced with both teams feeling each other out and not pushing the pace of play very hard. CCRI took the early lead, 8-2 with 16:22 left in the first half. The Knights alternated ball carriers between sophomore co-captain JC Santos (East Providence, RI) and freshman Jose Garcia (Boston, MA). The two varied the approach and pushing of the offense to keep the Bristol defense on their heels. Santos 14 first half points along with three steals, two assists and one rebound whilst Garcia had eight first half points. The pair of
Freshman Franklin Udeh (Boston, MA) and sophomore Oscar Iteji (Schenectady, NY) was paired up against Bristol's dynamic duo of Joshua Winbush and Zecaree Veiga who average 18 and 16.7 points per game respectively. The battle down low and stopping the high post would prove pivotal to the CCRI effort. Udeh racked up 10 points and seven rebounds and Iteji added four points, four blocks and three rebounds in the first half. Bristol would battle back on the offensive side of the ball, drawing level and eventually taking the lead 48-45 at halftime.
Bristol would control much of the second half, opening up a 55-49 lead with 16:24 left in the game. The Bayhawks' offense, led by the shooting of Dontell Rodriguez who went 6-15 from beyond the arc, scoring 18 points and Zecaree Veiga who scored a game-high 24 points, pushed hard to pull away from the Knights. The Bayhawks' defense applied pressure on CCRI forcing 21 total turnovers from the Knights. Through this adversity CCRI always stayed within striking distance, making massive 3-pointers and driving on the fast break and drew to within 1 point of the Bayhawks with the score reading 61-60 with 11:36 left in the game. The Knight defense made stop after stop down the stretch, snatching 18 total steals from the Bayhawks. Sophomore co-captain Peter Wilson (Providence, RI) led the CCRI front court pressure with a tied game-high seven steals, level with Bristol's Marcus McCarthy.
With 4:34 remaining Bristol held a three-point lead, 78-75, CCRI buckled down and made every possession count. The Knights took back the lead, 86-85 with 1:13 left on the clock. Another defensive stop and Peter Wilson driving the lane and drawing a foul and making both free-throws gave CCRI a, 88-85 lead. 17.1 second left on the clock and Bristol need a 3-pointer to force overtime. The drive did not come to fruition and sophomore Jake Gillis (Jamestown, RI) came away with the ball and was fouled. Gillis made the first free-throw and deliberately missed the second icing the game with the Knights winning 89-85.
The Knights were led by Franklin Udeh who recorded his eighth double-double of the season, scoring a team-high 21 points and adding 11 rebounds. Udeh played extremely efficient, shooting 9-13 from the floor and going 3-4 from the line. JC Santos tallied 19 points, four steals, four assists and three rebounds. Santos shot 7-13 from the floor and 3-3 from beyond the arc. Peter Wilson notched 14 points, seven steals, six assists and three rebounds. Jose Garcia scored a career high 13 points and added one rebound and one steal while shooting 4-5 from the floor, 3-4 from beyond the arc. Oscar Iteji ripped down 11 rebounds with six points, four blocks, three steals and one assist.
Head Coach Rick Harris commented: "Exciting pre-playoff game this evening. With three nationally ranked teams, Region XXI consists of some outstanding basketball players and games each and every night. Tonight's game consisted of all the elements of a playoff type game. The first half emotions and a lack of composure prevented us from doing the things execution wise that we talk about doing daily. The second half we're grouped and really did the things we pride ourselves on. Specifically controlling tempo through our defensive play. We grinded out each possession and made Bristol work for every shot they got. The last two minutes I was very proud of how the team handled special situations which we go over and practice on a regular basis. Great night but we will quickly turn our focus over to Ben Franklin and our game in Boston Thursday night."
The CCRI Knights men's basketball team will next be in action on Thursday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m. as they travel to Boston, MA to take on the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology Chargers.
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.