BROOKLINE, Mass. - The Nighthawks of Newbury College took home the title of 2008 ECAC Division III New England Men's Basketball Champions this afternoon after a 75-61 victory over University of New England.
This is the first year the Nighthawks made the ECAC post-season tournament and were selected as the third seed overall for the championship. After the top two seeds (No. 1 Emerson College, No. 2 Emmanuel College) both lost games in the quarter finals, Newbury earned the right to host the semi-finals and the finals at their home court. Newbury knocked out Johnson & Wales (64-60) in the quarter finals earlier this week and Western Connecticut State University (76-65) yesterday in the semi-finals.
At the opening tip off of today's game, it seemed that Newbury would run away with an easy win, taking a twelve point lead in the first 5 minutes. From that point, Newbury went on an 8-2 run, leaving UNE down by 16 with 10 minutes left to play in the half. Newbury's senior guard Ivan Dasilva (New Bedford, MA/West Bridgewater) dished out 7 assists in the first half, getting the ball into post player Kevin Cleveland (Lynn, MA/Lynn Vocational Tech) and opening things up for shooting guard Arch Mitchell (Framingham, MA/Framingham) who combined for 27 points in the first half.
Johnnie Jefferson (Dallas, TX/David W. Carter) and Chas Rentrope (Peoria, AZ/Peoria) kept the Noreasters alive in the first half with ten and seven points respectively, however, the Nighthawks retained a comfortable 43-32 lead heading into the half.
After the half, the University of New England began digging themselves out of the deficit. The Noreasters found the hot hands of Jefferson who hit two consecutive three-pointers and a field goal to tie the game 46-46, at the 13:30 mark. Just over two minutes later, at 11:27, the Noreasters took their first lead of the game at 53-52, after another made 3 point basket by Jefferson. Sixteen seconds later, Steven Morris (Somerville, MA/Somerville) responded with a nothing-but net 3 point shot to give Newbury the lead once more.
The Nighthawks retained the lead for the remainder of the game, though UNE kept the score within only a couple baskets until the final minutes when the Nighthawks pulled away by sinking 14 free throws to finish the game, 75-61.
Newbury's Mitchell (left) was chosen as the ‘2008 ECAC Division III New England Men's Basketball Most Outstanding Player' for racking up 22 points in today's game and 78 total points in the three game tournament. Mitchell finished his career at Newbury just 45 points short of the 2,000 point club, with 1955 total points over four years.
Under the leadership of coaches Evan O'Brien and Kyle O'Connor, the three Newbury seniors, Mitchell, Morris, and DaSilva, along with the rest of the Nighthawks, finished the season with an outstanding and record setting 21-9 overall record and the first ECAC men's basketball championship in school history.
(Courtesy of Newbury College Sports Information)