Bridgeport, Conn.-The University of Bridgeport men's basketball team, the number three seed, advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 East Coast Conference Championship Tournament with a 64-62 home win over the visiting number six seed Molloy College Lions on Wednesday night in Connecticut. With the win, the Purple Knights will now face the second seeded University of the District of Columbia Firebirds at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Queen (N.Y.) College in Flushing, New York. Bridgeport heads into the ECC semifinals on a three-game winning streak and with an 18-9 overall record. Molloy closes out its 2011-12 season with an 8-19 mark.
Bridgeport trailed only twice in the entire game at 4-3 and 6-5 early in the first half, but the Purple Knights had to withstand a furious rally by the Lions, who scored the final five points of the contest after UB had taken a 64-57 lead with only 27 seconds to play, take the two-point win.
Trailing 35-26 at the half, Molloy pulled with two, 59-57 with 1:54 to play in game, but saw Bridgeport score five straight points on a three-point shot by senior William Harrison (Bronx, N.Y.) and a pair of free throws by classmate Dante Menter (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to take the 64-57 lead with just 27 seconds to play.
Sophomore John Petrucelli would then score the next five points for Molloy the final one coming on the front of a one-and-one free throw situation with three seconds to play to pull the Lions to within two points at 64-62. Petrucelli would then miss the second throw intentionally and after the ball was batted into the far right corner of the court, a desperation three-point shot by freshman Matt McLeod would sail long to preserve the UB victory.
William Harrison led the victorious Purple Knights in both scoring and rebounding with 21 points and nine rebounds, and he was joined in double figures by junior Darian David (Bronx, N.Y.) with 14 points.
Another key to the Bridgeport win was 22 second chance points that came off of 16 offensive rebounds, plus the Purple Knights blocked seven Molloy shots led by junior Lloyd Antoine (Brooklyn, N.Y.) who had three rejections.
Petrucelli led four Molloy players in double figures with 24 points, and he was joined in double-digits by Matt McLeod with 11 points, Tyler Hammett had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Richard Zoller chipped in 10 points.
In Wednesday other ECC semifinal, Dowling topped NYIT, 67-63, and the Lions will face number one seed C.W. Post in Saturday other men's semifinal at 5:00 p.m. at Queens (N.Y.) College.