BOSTON, Mass. – The Pine Manor College men's basketball team erased a 21-point deficit at the end of the first half to defeat Emerson College, 84-82, and win the Coaches vs. Cancer Greater Boston Shootout hosted by Wentworth Institute of Technology, Tuesday evening. First year forward Rasheed Bell (Boston, Mass.) earned Most Valuable Player honors finishing with 13 points to go along with nine rebounds.
Pine Manor begins the season at 2-0 while Emerson drops to 1-1 in the early going.
Sophomore center Ellis Reed (Hartford, Conn.) led four Gators in double figures, registering a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Taverick Roberson (Pittsfield, Mass.) followed up with 15 points while first year forward Trayson Patterson (East Hartford, Conn.) posted 12 points off the bench.
Gray led all scorers and five Lions in double digits with 23 points while recording 13 rebounds for a double-double. Fitz also notched a double-double, ending the night with 16 points and 10 rebounds while first year forwards Alex Mrusek and Ben Holding came off the bench to round out Emerson in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Pine Manor matched Emerson point for point early on but the Lions worked the offensive paint, taking advantage of offensive rebound opportunities and began to pull away. Sophomore point guard Geoffrey Gray (Newton, Mass.) capped off a 7-0 run midway through the half with a lay-up to give the Lions a 10-point lead.
But the physical Gators were not going away quietly battling back pulling to pull within two possessions of the Lion lead. Sophomore guard Erick Rosario (Lynn, Mass.) connected with Patterson for an easy lay-up to cut the deficit to 21-15. It was a close as they would get for the remainder of the half as the Lions offense kept firing on all cylinders.
Emerson closed out the half with a 15-2 run to take their largest lead of the game, 21 points, 49-28 with just 1:31 remaining in the period. Junior forward Corey Fitz (Los Altos, Calif.), who was nearly perfect from the field in the first half, shooting six-of-eight for all 16 points, dished out three assists during the two minute stretch run to send the Lions into the locker room with a 51-34 advantage.
With their backs against the wall, down 17 points, the Gators new they had their work cut out for them. Freshman forward Makai Hunter (Middletown, Conn.) opened the second half connecting with both Roberson and Bell for back-to-back jumpers to pull within 13 points.
Momentum shifted, now favoring the Gators and Rosario made sure to keep it that way. The north shore native connected with sophomore center Ellis Reed (Hartford, Conn.) in the paint for a dunk before forcing the Lions to call their first time-out making a lay-up and cutting the deficit back down to single-digits.
While the timeout briefly re-ignited the Lions offense with Gray pushing them back up by double figures with a jumper, it did not quell the Gator offense. Despite trailing by 10 points, Bell turned the game around igniting a six-minute, 19-0 run, draining a trey at 15:49 as Pine Manor took their first lead, 64-57, since the opening four minutes of the contest.
Emerson point guard Michael Sheng (Altadena, Calif.) broke up the scoreless streak for the Lions with a lay-up at 9:01 and converted the three-point play to pull Emerson back to two possessions, 64-60. Mrusek knocked down a pair of free-throws with six minutes remaining in regulation to pull the Lions to within two points, 68-66 but it was not enough.
The Gators extended their lead back to double figures, 76-66, due, in part, to back-to-back treys from Patterson and Roberson as well as two free throws from Patterson. Every time the Lions kept inching their way back the Gators kept closing the door a little more. Roberson went three-for-three from the charity stripe to give Pine Manor the eight-point, 84-76, lead which was more than enough for the Gators.
Pine Manor returns to the hard-court Friday evening when they travel to Waterville, Maine for the Colby College Tournament where they will face host, Colby at 5:00 p.m. Emerson will be back in action on the Tuesday before the Thanksgiving Break, November 22nd, when travel to nearby Suffolk University. Tip-off's at 7:00 p.m.