By Brendan Driscoll/Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) each scored over 20 points on Thursday night, helping the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to a 95-86 non-conference victory over Nichols College in the final home game of 2012 at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
At left: Mike Garrow skies for two of his 18 first-half points in Thursday's 95-86 victory over Nichols College at Geissler Gym. (Photo by Courtney Weber).
Eastern (5-2) defeated Nichols for the sixth straight time but it was their first meeting since the 1983-84 season. Nicholas (3-4) lost its fourth straight.
Garrow scored 18 points in the first half including a dunk to give Eastern an early 11-5 lead to spark the Warriors to a season-high point output which was nearly 30 points higher than its season average. And the Warriors needed nearly all of it against a team averaging just north of 83 points per game.
Nichols had a full court press on for the entire game. The press helped and hurt the Bison throughout the game. They were able to force ten turnovers in the first half but at times Eastern was able to break the press to score easy baskets. Nichols was able to tie the game, 25-25, but then Eastern went on an 8-0 run with 5:52 remaining in the first. That would be the last time Nichols had a share of the lead, as Eastern was able to finish the half with a 45-37 lead.
In the early stages of the second half, freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) took over the game, scoring seven consecutive points. He first made a three pointer, then drove to lane on the next possession to make a layup. Preston than stole the ball in the backcourt and got fouled on the ensuing shot. He made both free throws to put Eastern ahead 59-46. Preston finished the game with a career-high 18 points, 13 points above his season average.
Nichols received a blow to its offense when junior Ryan Sheehan fouled out of the game with 11 minutes left. The team leader with a remarkable scoring average of just over 28 points, Sheehan was the leading scorer at the time for the Bison with 19 points. Eastern was able to extend its lead to 17 with 10 minutes left in the game. Nichols then went on a 15-2 run to shrink the Eastern lead to six with only four minutes to play. Garrow then scored his only three points of the second half to end the run. After a turnover Preston had a good drive to the basket to put Eastern back up by double digits.
Ives shared game-high scoring honors with Nichols' Kyle Mascilak (who came off the bench and played only 24 minutes) with a career-high 25 points (and six assists), with Garrow scoring 21. Sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) recorded a double-double in the game by grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds and scoring ten points. Preston and Garrow contributed four assists each and in his second career start, freshman center Darryl Best (Hamden) blocked three of the team's seven shots and grabbed two rebounds in 12 minutes.
Eastern returns to Little East Conference action Saturday at 3 p.m. at Rhode Island College.