Bison stop streaking Hawks in matchup of CCC’s best

The Roger Williams University Hawks men’s basketball team suffered their ninth consecutive loss to the Nichols College Bison in a 91-79 verdict on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Andrew Wuebker, Sports Editor

Before the season began, the Hawks set the goal of getting better each and every day, taking the process of growing as a team and getting better one day at a time.

No clear cut long term goals had been set, but for some players, beating Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) powerhouse Nichols College was on that short list of objectives they wanted to achieve.

Tuesday night, however, was no success.

A 91-79 result at the hands of Nichols College gave the Roger Williams University men’s basketball team their first loss of the season on Tuesday night, Dec. 5 in a matchup of the CCC’s best.

Prior to tip-off, Hawks junior guard Austin Coene was honored for scoring his 1,000th career point on Saturday, Dec. 2 in a 107-76 victory over University of New England.

Nichols has given RWU major problems in the past to say the least. Despite the revolving door of players that come in year after year, Nichols’ players can be described as being talented with traits of speed and shooting prowess. On this night, both were on full display.

The Bison came out of the gate fast and aggressive, much like they did against their previous six opponents en route to a 5-1 record heading into the matchup, scoring an average of 93.83 points per game in the six-game start.

The Bison built a 20-10 lead in little more than 10 minutes into the first-half, capitalizing on the Hawks’ turnovers with easy transition baskets and shooting from beyond the arch.

The Hawks fought back to take a 29-27 lead on senior forward Conor O’Brien’s four-point play, but Nichols answered quickly. The Hawks’ inability to take care of the ball which led to 14 first-half turnovers and stopping Nichols’ dribble penetration gave the Bison open looks from the 3-point line, knocking down 11-of-20 3-point shots in the first-half, giving them a 45-36 lead heading into the break.

Bison senior guard Daequon Antoine led the charge in the first-half for Nichols on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting for 17 points, including five 3-pointers. He’d finish with 24 points and five rebounds, going 6-of-8 from distance.

The Hawks attempted to fight back in the second-half, holding Antoine to only seven second-half points and better ball control, but failed to contain the Bison’s other star guard in junior Marcos Echevarria.

Echevarria scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the second-half along with five boards and five assists, including seven 3-pointers on the night to pace the Bison to the 91-79 victory.

The Bison built a lead as large as 17 in the final 20 minutes while RWU got no closer than nine points.

RWU was led by junior guard Austin Coene with 21 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Nick Marini tallied 17 points and five assists.

Senior forward Jaylen Jennings and sophomore guard Rich Pugliese each added 10 points for the Hawks.

Tuesday’s loss was the Hawks’ ninth straight to the Bison with their last triumph coming on Feb. 6, 2013 in a 85-74 home win.

Hawks Head Coach Michael Tully after the game credited Nichols for their play, complimenting them on their talent and shooting prowess, but also said the Hawks did a poor job of handling the ball and stopping paint penetration.

He added that how his players respond in practice after the loss will be telling about what kind of team he has.

Up next: The Hawks head on the road Thursday, Dec. 7 to Dartmouth, Massachusetts to play the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Corsairs before a 23-day layoff before facing Worcester State University on Dec. 30.