Trinity Men's Basketball Hosts NESCAC Final Four For Third Time This Weekend

Trinity is the tournament's top seed for the third time

Hartford, Conn., February 25, 2015 - The Trinity College men's basketball team, which downed the Colby College Mules, 66-63, in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship Quarterfinals over the weekend, will host the NESCAC Semifinals and Finals on Stan Ogrodnik Court in Ray Oosting Gymnasium as the tournament's top seed for the third time and the first time since 2002 on Saturday, February 28 and Sunday March 1.  The Bantams, coached by James Cosgrove (5th Season), will face the No. 6-seeded Wesleyan University Cardinals in their semifinal on Saturday at 2 p.m. with No. 2-seeded Bowdoin and No. 5-seeded Amherst facing off at 4 p.m. The semifinal winners will play in the NESCAC Championship Finals on Sunday, March 2 at noon.  The winner of the NESCAC Championship Tournament will determine the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.  Tickets for the weekend's games are $5 for adults and $2 for students.  Trinity students will be admitted at no charge courtesy of the College's athletic department.   

Trinity rode an eight-game winning streak into the start of the league schedule before closing out the regular season with six straight victories, including a 65-61 triumph at Wesleyan on February 6, to earn its first home quarterfinal game since 2011 against Colby. Trinity hosted the NESCAC Championship Final Four as the top seed and reached the finals in its first two seasons of existence in 2001 and 2002, and won the league tournament in 2008, and has reached the NESCAC Semifinals nine times with a 7-3 overall record in the previous eight quarterfinal games.  Last winter, Trinity downed Bowdoin on the road as the No. 5 seed, 71-67, in triple overtime of the NESCAC Quarterfinals but lost at top-seeded Amherst, 80-62, in the semifinal round.

Trinity won its seventh game in a row and reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2007-08 against Colby.  Bantam junior guard Jaquann Starks (Hartford, Conn.) paced the Trinity offense with 12 points, including 10 in the first half, and added four rebounds and three assists, while junior forward Shay Ajayi (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished with 10 points, a game-high 11 rebounds, two blocks, and three steals, and sophomore forward Ed Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.) notched all 11 of his points and five of his seven of his boards after the break. 

Trinity tops the NESCAC in scoring defense (63.4 ppg) and ranks second in field-goal percentage defense (.385, 17th in nation), and rebounding margin (+8.1 per game, 14th in nation).  Starks ranks 11th in the NESCAC in scoring with 13.6 ppg, while Ogundeko and Ajayi are seventh and T11th in rebounding, respectively, at 8.3 and 6.4 per game.  Starks is tied for second in the league in free-throw percentage at .891 (90-101, 16th in nation) and third in three-point field-goal percentage at .440 (55-125).  Ajayi is tied for fifth in the conference in steals with 1.6 per game, followed by junior guard Andrew Hurd (Windsor, Conn.) in 10th with 1.2 per contest, and Ogundeko is tied for sixth in blocked shots with 1.5 per game.  Trinity junior guard Rick Naylor (Sudbury, Vt.) came off the bench to score 17 points in the regular-season game at Wesleyan, while Starks added 12 points and nine rebounds.  The Bantams are currently ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Division III Northeast Region.  

Wesleyan, coached by Trinity alum Joe Reilly (7th Season), is 17-8 overall and finished 5-5 in the NESCAC to earn the No. 6 seed in the league tourney.  The Cardinals posted a 10-2 record entering NESCAC play this winter, but stumbled to a 1-3 start in the league. Wesleyan righted the ship entering the league's final weekend, easily winning road games at Hamilton and Williams before ousting No. 3-seeded Bates on the road in its quarterfinal game, 66-59.  Junior Joseph Kuo leads the balanced Wesleyan offense in scoring with 12.2 ppg and adds a team-high 7.8 boards per contest, while junior guards B.J. Davis and Jack Mackey, and sophomore guard Harry Rafferty are all averaging over 11 ppg.  Trinity is 2-1 against Wesleyan in the NESCAC postseason, but the teams have not met since the 2005 quarterfinals when the Bantams came out on top, 78-64.  The Cardinals have yet to reach the NESCAC men's basketball championship game in three overall semifinal appearances.