WATERVILLE, ME – The Thomas College men's basketball team pulled off an 80-78 victory over New England College in North Atlantic Conference (NAC) action on Friday evening at Larry Mahaney Gymnasium.
The Terriers move to .500 overall at 11-11 (9-6 NAC), gaining sole position of third place in the conference while the Pilgrims drop their fifth-straight at 11-12 (6-10 NAC).
In the first eight minutes, the Terriers jumped out to a 20-11 lead behind ten points from Tyheem Simon (Far Rockaway, N.Y.). The Pilgrims looked to leading scorer Izaiah Winston-Brooks who added nine points and five rebounds in the first half to keep his team within striking distance. NEC gained the lead with 2:38 remaining as Brenndan Rogers buried a three to go up 38-37. The Pilgrims added another bucket before the break, leading 40-37 at the half.
Thomas got the ball in the paint to open the second as Carlos Gonzalez (Kennebunk, Maine / Lewiston) netted seven-straight points, notching the score up at 44-44 with 16:22 remaining. The Pilgrims answered right back with seven points from Jack Hostetler, still tied up at 51-51.
The Terriers held on to a slim lead the rest of the way as they went to the line 14 more times to finish the second half at 18-for-23. NEC struggled from the floor at 11-for-28 (39.3%). Freshman Zach Mackinnon (Kennebunk, Maine / Kennebunk) knocked two of his six free throws with nine seconds remaining to give the Terriers a three-point advantage. Thomas quickly fouled Winston-Brooks in the final seconds, not allowing a chance to tie.
Gonzalez led the Terriers with a double-double on a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds while Simon chipped in with 21 points and seven boards. Mackinnon contributed with 16 points and a perfect 6-for-6 at the charity stripe.
The Pilgrims used a balanced attack as six players scored in double figures. Ricky Leonard held a team-high 15 points while Winston-Brooks fell a rebound shy of a double-double at 14 points and nine rebounds.
In their next matchup, Thomas will host Colby-Sawyer for Senior Day on Saturday, February 11, in a 1:00 p.m. conference contest.