NEW LONDON, Conn.-Senior Alex Del Rio scored on a runner with 17.9 seconds to play to complete a 15-point second half rally for Mitchell as the Mariners stunned the Coast Guard men's basketball team 67-66 on Tuesday evening at Merriman Gymnasium.
Senior and reigning NECC Player of the Year Josh Ford registered game highs of 27 points and 14 rebounds to help guide Mitchell (2-1) to their second consecutive win over Coast Guard (0-3).
Coast Guard just couldn't contain the wide-bodied Ford and he took advantage of open looks and a pure strength advantage in the post. He finished the game hitting 12 of his 19 field goal attempts (1-3 from beyond the arc).
Sophomore Ryan McNeil, coming off the bench, scored 16 of his career-high 22 points in the first half to help stake the Bears to a double-digit advantage. He was 7 of 12 from the field while his four three pointers made were also a career-high. After Coast Guard built a 41-26 lead by halftime but Mitchell used an 11-2 run out of the break to cut the deficit to just six and get back into the game.
Despite the run, Coast Guard was able to build the lead back to 10 at 66-56 with just over three minutes to play but Mitchell would score the final 11 points of the game to pick up the victory.
The second half belonged to the Mariners as they outscored the Bears 41-25 in the second half, doing so largely on plays in which sophomore Devonta Mosley (19 points, 9-17 from the field) and Ford would drive to the basket and make shots in traffic. Mosley scored six of Mitchell's final 11 points and added a game-high four steals for Mitchell.
A wild play would set up the winning basket for Mitchell. Trailing 66-65, the Mariners pressed the ball up the court before forcing a Coast Guard turnover when junior Eli Sponseller threw a pass to junior Ryan McNeil but McNeil was called for a backcourt violation despite what appeared to be the ball deflecting off of a Mariner defender.
Mitchell would get the ball back with 30 seconds to play where they gave the inbounds pass to Del Rio. He would drive to the basket and release a runner from about four feet away over the arms of a pair of Coast Guard defenders.
David Anderson recorded his seventh career double-double for the Bears, totaling season-highs of 20 points and a team-high 11 rebounds (including four offensive boards), while tallying a game- and career-high six assists. Senior point guard Devonte Weems was tremendous on the ball all night directing the Coast Guard offense and facilitating for his teammates and finished with eight points (2-6 shooting), three rebounds, and three assists against just one turnover.
Coast Guard's leading-scorer, Sponseller, was unable to get anything going early and struggled from the field, finishing with just five points on 2 for 14 shooting (1-7 from three) but did grab eight rebounds.
The Bears held a 40-34 rebounding edge over the Mariners but were outscored 50-20 in the paint. Mitchell shot 52.5 percent from the field (31 for 59) but just 16.7 percent from three (2-12) to outshoot the Bears, who were just 37.5 percent from the field (24-64) and 28 percent from three-point range (7-25). Coast Guard shot 15 free throws (making 11) compared to Mitchell's 3 for 10 effort from the charity stripe.
Del Rio finished with seven points (3-8 shooting), two rebounds, and two assists for the mariners. With their victory, Mitchell is now 2-7 all-time against Coast Guard.
"Mitchell deserves a lot of credit; they fought hard to come back," said Coast Guard head coach Kevin Jaskiewicz. "I told my guys at halftime that Mitchell was going to battle back in the second half. We turned it over six times in the second half. We have to be better with the ball."
He added that he was very pleased with the efforts of a pair of players, saying, "Ryan (McNeil) and David (Anderson) did a great job of carrying us tonight, but we need to get more balanced on offense. We are making great strides and putting ourselves in situations to win games, now we just have to win them."
Coast Guard will return to action on Saturday, November 23rd when they travel to Bristol, R.I. to take on Roger Williams.