FRANKLIN, Mass. - The true definition of a balanced, team effort, with four Nighthawks finishing with at least 20 points, as the sixth-seeded Newbury Nighthawks pulled off the 96-90 upset win over the third-seeded Dean Bulldogs on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the New England Collegiate Conference Tournament.
Nighthawks senior Pierce Weatherspoon (Hartford, Conn.) finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds. Senior Tank Roberson (Pittsfield, Mass.) and sophomore Tim Deng (Portland, Maine) both finished with 21 points. Senior Omar Williams (Queens, N.Y.) added 20 points. Roberson also had nine rebounds and six assists. Deng contributed three blocks.
Bulldogs senior Dayvon Russell (Naugatuck, Conn.) and junior Jordan Booker (Waterbury, Conn.) each finished with 22 points. Junior Sean Odum (Rowlette, Texas) added 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Senior Armani Baker (Pawtucket, R.I.) finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the game's only double-double.
In the most crucial play of the game and with the Nighthawks leading 93-90, Williams headed to the foul line for two shots with 20.4 seconds left. After missing his first, the second shot bounced off the front rim and out.
A miscommunication by the Bulldogs allowed the rebound to hit the ground and Williams split the double-team box out, gathered his own rebound and made a contested, right-handed layup, giving Newbury a 95-90 lead.
The Nighthawks battled back from as big as a nine-point deficit in the second half, finally breaking through for the lead on a Williams three-point play. The Nighthawks pulled out to their largest lead with an 11-2 run to lead 91-84. Williams, Deng, and Weatherspoon all completed three-point plays in the scoring run.
Turnovers nearly cost the Nighthawks a win as the Bulldogs did cut the deficit to one possession before the Williams game-sealing layup.
Newbury shot 21-of-35 (60 percent) in the second half, recovering from the seven-point halftime deficit.
The win moves the Nighthawks to 11-14, as they advance to the semifinals of the NECC Tournament for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. The Bulldogs finished their season at 17-9.
The journey continues on Thursday as the Nighthawks head to the No. 2 seed, Eastern Nazarene College, for a 7:00 p.m. tip at the Lahue Center. The Nighthawks and Lions split the regular season series. Eastern Nazarene defeated Newbury 87-78 at the Lahue Center in mid-January.