NEWPORT, R.I. - The Curry College men's basketball team fell to salve Regina in Newport R.I. on Saturday afternoon by a score of 90-52 in the final game of the regular for each team. The Colonels round out the year with a 1-24 overall record with a 0-16 mark in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). The Seahawks finish off the year with an overall record of 9-16, while going 5-11 in league play. The Seahawks finish the regular season tied for sixth in the CCC, but miss out on a tournament appearance due to a secondary tiebreaker.
Salve Regina came into this game knowing they were in a do-or-die situation. Needing a victory coupled with a win by Wentworth (over the conference leading Bison of Nichols College) to get into the CCC tournament, the Seahawks got out to a hot start. Despite missing their first shot after winning the opening tip, Salve managed to string together a 14-0 run to open the contest, a run that chewed up the first five minutes of action. Spencer Feng (Keene, N.H.) got the Colonels on the board in style with a three from RJ Hadfield (Warwick, R.I.). Just under a minute later, Hadfield hit a triple of his own from junior Jared Thorpe-Johnson (Dorchester, Mass.) to cut the Salve lead to 11 at 17-6. With just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half, though, Curry was unable to find a way to slow down CCC Rookie of the Year contender Mikey Spencer (Abbington, Mass.), who climbed up to 11 points in the contest with a deep three to extend the lead to 24-8, while the Colonels struggled to find their footing, with 3-13 shooting from the floor and four turnovers. Coach Joe Busacca gave the team a breath of fresh air by inserting freshman Seth Foley (Bristol, Conn.) into the lineup, as the young guard hit a triple less than two minutes after entering the game. Following an inside layup by Chris Peasley (Plainfield, Conn.) to extend the Salve lead back to 13, Curry showed they had no intentions of backing down, tightening up on defense and forcing a shot clock violation to send the ball the other way. Following another triple from Spencer to go up 36-13, Busacca deployed some new-look lineups, getting both big men Kieran Carroll (Greenwich, Conn.) and Dan Quinn (Holbrook, N.Y.) on the floor, before also trying a smaller look, pairing guards Jon Joel (Cranston, R.I.) and Julius Hemingway (Kissimmee, Fla.). Following a Hemingway bucket, the scoring hit a lull, as the teams combined to score just seven points over the next three and a half minutes of action, before a triple by senior James Gibson (Norwalk, Conn.) found its way home off glass. This score sent the teams to the half with the hosts leading 46-21, as the Colonels looked to contain the three headed monster of Spencer, Kevin Kelly (Valhalla, N.Y.), and Cameron Collins (Oakdale, Conn.), who combined for 35 points and seven assists in the first frame.
Coming out of the intermission, the Seahawks reprised their early performance of the first half, as they broke off a 13-0 streak to start the second period over four minutes of play. A fast break layup by Carroll ended the run, but not before Salve extended their lead beyond 30 points. With 12:44 left in the action, Curry ran off a 16-8 run to start to chip away at the deficit, but the hosts soon returned to their earlier form and earned the lead back, using buckets by Collins and Max Sparkman (Lexington, Ky.) to stretch the score to 81-40. As the time ticked down, the Seahawk crowd got to be a part of a special moment as Kevin Mannix (Barrinton, R.I.), Salve's lone four-year senior, converted an old fashioned three point play before departing the game to a heartfelt ovation. Curry kept it tight over the final six minutes of action, outscoring the Seahawks 12-9 over that span, but the hosts came in with a clear cut mission and accomplished their part, wrapping up the victory by a score of 90-52.
Curry's offense was paced by Hadfield, who put up 15 points on the afternoon. Joel paced the visitors' rebounding efforts with five boards while Thorpe-Johnson registered three helpers. Dwayne Boothe (Jamaica, N.Y.) stayed stout on the defensive end, picking up and block and a steal. The Seahawks boasted three double digit scorers in the match up in Peasley (11), Collins (18), and Spencer (24), while Mannix made his presence felt underneath the baskets with 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Kelly topped the team in assists with eight while Andrew Bronstein (Needham, Mass.) grabbed five steals.
Despite the victory, Salve Regina's season came to a close shortly after this contest. Needing a Wentworth win to advance to the postseason, the Seahawks watched Nichols hold off the Leopards in a close one, giving the University of New England (5-11) and Wentworth (5-11) the final two spots in the CCC tourney while leaving Salve on the outside looking in. With all three teams closing out their conference season with identical records, the first tie breaker put into effect looked at head-to-head records between the three teams. UNE advanced through this metric, as their 3-1 mark edged the remaining two teams. With Wentworth and Salve still knotted, the head-to-head record left a stalemate as the teams split their season series. The next tie breaker examines the teams' records against conference opponents by rank. Each team went 0-4 in games versus the first seeded Nichols and the second seeded Gordon, but Wentworth's January 3 victory over the third seeded Roger Williams was enough to break the tie, as the Hawks of RWU swept their season series against Salve, sending the Leopards to the postseason as the seventh seed and eliminating the Seahawks.
The Colonels' season also comes to a close, but not without reason for optimism. Busacca will lose just three players this offseason in seniors Gibson and twins Alex and Louis Stein (Mount Olive, N.J.). Retaining a year of eligibility is Daymeann Stewart (Milwaukee, Wis.) who plans to return next season after missing the entire 2018-19 campaign. Despite being held to just five points in this one, Thorpe-Johnson remains a potent scorer who racked up nearly 500 points this season which included a 59 point performance in Biddeford, Maine and his 1,000th career point. The sharp shooting Hadfield will also return, whose 5 triples this afternoon is just a brief glimpse into his full game. Six players will return for their senior seasons, which will create a solid foundation of leadership as the first class of recruits from Busacca will join the team next fall. The Colonels made several strides this season and can look forward to even more progress as the 2019-20 season comes around.