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MEN'S HOOPS DROPS SEASON-OPENER TO WNEU, 71-68

MEN'S HOOPS DROPS SEASON-OPENER TO WNEU, 71-68

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Western New England University men's basketball team used a strong second half to seal a 71-68 victory over Emmanuel College on Saturday evening at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.

Top Performers
Senior guard Mikey Pettway (Bridgeport, Conn.) led the way for the Golden Bears with a career-high 39 points and also collected eight rebounds. Pettway scored 30 of his 39 points in the second half.

Sophomore guard Alex Sikorski (Rocky Hill, Conn.) finished with a double-double consisting of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Jared Sancho (North Haven, Conn.) provided good minutes off the bench tallying seven points, three rebounds, and a block.

Emmanuel had two players reach double figures. Freshman guard Giovanni Ciampa (Tewksbury, Mass.) registered 20 points and senior guard Joe Tamburro (South Windsor, Conn.) had 14 points. Senior center Ira Lough (North Smithfield, R.I.) finished with nine points, four rebounds, and four assists.

Game Review
Emmanuel College led by as many as 12 in the first half led by the play of Ciampa, Taburro, and Lough.

With a minute remaining, Western New England was able to cut the lead to single digits off a pair of free throws from Sikorski and a Tim Reilly (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) layup. Emmanuel would go into halftime leading 40-34.

Four minutes into the second half, the Golden Bears stormed back to take the lead (48-45) with a 12-3 run. Ciampa then tied the game (48-48) with one of his four three-pointers on the night.

Gaining momentum off the play of Pettway, the Golden Bears would string together key defensive stops and eventually build a six-point lead (56-50) with 8:50 remaining.

Emmanuel's free throw shooting kept the game close, as the Saints shot 17-18 from the charity stripe. In the final two minutes, both teams traded baskets. Pettway put the Golden Bears up four (69-65) with two made free throws and Tamburro responded with a transition three-pointer to bring the Saints within one point with 38 seconds to go.

After an Emmanuel timeout, Tamburro looked for the go-ahead bucket with six seconds left, but Sikorski came up with the game-saving block. Pettway corralled the miss and was fouled, sending him to the line to cap off the win.

Notes
• Western New England held a 45-29 rebounding advantage, led by Sikorski's game-high 11 boards.
• The Golden Bears limited the Saints to just 28 points on 8-of-30 shooting (26.7%) in the second half.
• Pettway's previous career-high of 38 points came in Western New England's overtime win at Nichols last January.

Up Next
Western New England (1-1) travels to Division I Sacred Heart University for an exhibition contest on Monday night, before playing in Wesleyan University's Herb Kenny Tip-Off Tournament next weekend. Emmanuel (0-1) returns home to face Wheaton on Tuesday.

*Release courtesy of WNEU Sports Information Dept.