BRISTOL, R.I.-Senior Devonte Weems tallied a team-high 12 points and hit the eventual game-winner with just 28 seconds to play to rally the Coast Guard men's basketball team from a nine point halftime deficit and get the Bears their first win of the season on Saturday afternoon at Roger Williams, 66-65.
Coast Guard (1-3) trailed by as many as 16 at 30-14 with 6:37 to play in the first half. The Bears would use a 12-3 run to cut the deficit to just seven at 33-26 with 1:04 to play in the first before heading into the break trailing 35-26. Adrian Chuquillangui (8 points, 3 of 3 shooting) made a pair of threes during the run while junior Eli Sponseller (11 points, 5 of 10 shooting) added a pair of baskets after sophomore Ricky Rodriguez (7 points, 3 of 6 shooting) got things going with a layup with 6:14 to play.
In the second half Roger Williams (0-4), led by Chris Bardwell (14 points) and his game-high 11 rebounds, would push the lead to as many as 12 (44-32) with 16:43 to play but Coast Guard kept fighting back. The Bears would score the next ten points with Sponseller again keying the run with a pair of field goals.
After having to play catch-up since the 14:25 mark of the first half, Coast Guard would finally tie things up with a layup by sophomore Ryan McNeil (7 points, 3 of 4 shooting) with 5:23 to play, just the second tie of the game. A minute and 23 seconds later McNeil would give Coast Guard their first lead of the game at 60-57 with a three-point field goal.
Following a turnover with 56 seconds to play, junior Joseph Henry (12 points) scored a layup for Roger Williams to knot the game at 64-64 before making the and-one foul shot to give the Hawks the lead at 65-64 with just 53 seconds to play.
On the next Coast Guard possession Weems would hit what would prove to be the game winning basket off of an assist from senior John Benedict (5 points, 2 of 3 shooting). In addition to his 12 points, Weems would also add five rebounds and a game-best five assists.
Junior David Anderson joined Sponseller and Weems in double figures with 10 points and added four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Mark Krebs grabbed a team-best seven rebounds while chipping in with four points (2 of 6 shooting).
For the game Coast Guard shot 53.7 percent (29-54) including 30.8 percent (4-13) from three-point range. Roger Williams was held to just 36.9 percent shooting (24-65) including 24 percent (6-25) from deep but enjoyed an advantage at the charity stripe, making 11 of 14 attempts (78.6 percent) compared to Coast Guard who was 4 of 7 (57.1 percent). The Bears held a 38-31 rebounding edge but turned it over 12 times compared to Roger Williams' two turnovers.
Freshman Josh Syska joined Bardwell and Henry in double-figures for Roger Williams with 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field.
With the victory, Coast Guard snaps a five-game losing streak to the Hawks that dated back to the 2008/09 season. Coast Guard is now 18-6 against Roger Williams since records are available (c. 1988/89).
Head Coach Kevin Jaskiewicz was very happy with his team's play all-around and noted a couple of players in particular. "We got great leadership from our seniors. Ryan (McNeil) and Devonte (Weems) hit two big shots," before adding, "I'm proud of how resilient we were in this game."
Coast Guard returns to action on Tuesday, November 23rd when they host Salve Regina at 5:30 pm.