DeAnte Bruton poured in a game-high 38 points on 12 of 27 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and two assists as the Nichols College men’s basketball team edged Endicott College, 76-75, in this afternoon’s Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship.
With the win, the Bison have now won four-straight conference tournament championships, including three against the Gulls. Additionally, the victory secures the Bison a spot in the upcoming NCAA D-III Tournament, which tips-off next weekend.
Nichols secured a three-point lead at the break (38-35), thanks to Bruton and Matt Morrow, who combined for 23 points in the first half. Bruton would net 26 points during the final 20 minutes on 7 of 16 shooting. He also netted 10 of 12 freebies in the final session.
Endicott did keep pace with Nichols throughout the second half – they mainly trailed by one or two baskets, but did fall behind by seven points with less than 10 minutes remaining. The Gulls would eventually close the gap to four points (76-72) with 1:06 remaining and then one point (76-75) with 38 seconds remaining, thanks to a made three-pointer by Keith Brown.
Brown and the Gulls would not convert an additional field goal following the made trifecta as Nichols drained the clock before firing a shot as time expired on the shot clock with eight seconds remaining. Brown did get the rebound of the missed field goal but had the ball taken away with two seconds remaining by Kash Jackson.
Morrow concluded the contest with 19 points while Jaekwon Spencer registered 11 rebounds, seven points, two steals, and two blocks.
Brown led Endicott with 23 points, Jalen Echevarria scored 21 points while Matt McDevitt tallied 11 points.
Nichols, which advanced to the elite eight last season, will find out who they will face in the opening round of the NCAA D-III Tournament on Monday, March 2nd.