Leicester, Mass. --- Andre French (Torrington, Conn.) scored 14 points Including 12 during a furious second half rally to lead Elms past Regis in a 50-45 victory in the NECC Men's Basketball Championship Semifinals on Friday night at the Leicester Gym. Elms advances to face host Becker on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. for the NECC Tournament Championship.
After a slow start, Regis took a 6-0 lead over Elms, holding the Blazers scoreless for the opening 6:49 of the game. The Pride extended their lead to 9-2 after a jumper by Osanto Marc (Kissimmee, Fla.) with 12:08 remaining in the opening half. Playing from behind for the entire period, Elms cut the deficit to three behind a pair of free throws by French. Regis responded with a 3-pointer from Ryan Chambers (Abington, Mass.) to go up 23-16 with 2:15 left in the period, and the Pride closed out the half on a pair of nearly identical plays with Ahmad Charles (Cambridge, Mass.) getting the steal in the backcourt and dishing the ball to a streaking Chambers for a fast-break layup. Regis led 27-16 at the half, led by Chambers' seven points.
The second half saw another slow start turn in favor of Regis early on. With 13:07 left in the game, Marc picked up a steal and took it coast-to-coast for the layup as the Pride went ahead 31-22. With their season on the line, the Blazers rallied to score eight straight points, topped off by a steal and layup by French to pull within 31-30 with 9:29 remaining. Then with 7:32 left in the game, French made another layup to cut the lead to one at 34-33. Two minutes later French would tie it for the Blazers on a 3-pointer at 36-36, the first time the game had been tied since 0-0. After a Regis basket, Elms took their first lead of the game when Daniel Gonzalez (East Windsor, Conn.) buried a huge shot from behind the arc with 4:39 remaining. Gonzalez hit another three 30 seconds later, and suddenly the Blazers were up 42-38. Charles hit a desperately needed 3-pointer for the Pride to pull them to within one, and with 2:08 left in the game, Michael McClosky (Winter Springs, Fla.) tied the game at 42-42 on a free throw.
With 55.7 seconds left, Elms' David McDaniel (Plainfield, N.J.) hit 1-of-2 free throws and Bryant Corcoran (Waterbury, Conn.) pulled down the offensive rebound. Regis fouled to send Charles Bason (Riverdale, Md.) to the line, who buried both free throws to go up 45-42. After the Pride missed their next shot they were forced to foul again. Down by four with 12.8 seconds remaining, Marc completed a 3-point play to pull the Pride to within one at 46-45. As he had all game, French put the Blazers on his back, making both free throws with 7.8 seconds left as Elms went up 48-45. Regis turned the ball over on the following possession and were forced to foul again, and Elms would pull off the come from behind victory.
French led all scorers with 14, including two huge 3-pointers to tie the game. Gonzalez added 13 points off the bench, with nine of those coming in the second half. Corcoran finished with eight points and eight rebounds, while McDaniel pulled down a team-high nine boards. The Blazers hit 4-of-8 3-pointers in the second half.
Marc led Regis with 11 points off the bench. Charles and Ethan Peana (Staten Island, N.Y.) each hauled in nine rebounds with Charles adding nine points and coming up with a game-high six steals. Robert Edwards (Memphis, Tenn.) added nine points and three rebounds.