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New London - Coast Guard Academy was a team Connecticut College had already beaten this season by 35 points. And the Bears entered Monday night's game with a 12-game losing streak.
Conn coach Tom Satran issued a warning to his players.
"I told them." Satran said. "This is going to be a game where your effort has to be commensurate with how hungry they are, that you beat them the last time and embarrassed them a little bit.
"I hate to be right about those things."
Conn won the All-New London men's basketball game at Merriman Gym 62-55, as Matt Vadas led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Jared Shill added 13 points.
But the Camels (6-12) had to survive a Coast Guard comeback that brought the Bears to within four points with 6 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the game. And make their free throws.
The game featured 40 fouls whistled, 28 in the second half, with both teams reaching the double-bonus and then some. Conn was 19-for-25 from the foul line as Coast Guard hustled to try to get back in the game.
Conn, which played its third game in the last four days, broke a six-game losing streak.
"It's not frustrating," said Coast Guard coach Kevin Jaskiewicz, whose team shot 20 percent (6-for-30) in the first half, missing several point blank shots. "The guys are working hard. I thought we played the game exactly the way we wanted to play it. You can't control when you make shots.
"... You saw two teams that were scuffling. We were 6-25 combined. But you'd never know it by the way we played."
Coast Guard (1-14) has had a hard time with injuries. The Bears played their last game against Babson without Greg Marshall, who returned to score 15 points in 18 minutes off the bench against Conn.
Kevin Sowers and Devonte Weems both have missed time this season and aren't yet 100 percent, Jaskiewicz said, but provided some of the spark Monday. Sowers finished with 13 points and seven rebounds and Weems (6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) hit the jump shot that cut Conn's lead to 43-39, forcing a Conn timeout.
Coast Guard trailed 15-2 early after three straight 3-pointers by Conn's Vadas (two) and Mason Lopez. Conn, which starts three freshmen, led 25-15 at halftime.
Coast Guard trailed by 12 when it scored six straight points to make it 43-37. The Bears then had three consecutive possessions to cut further into the lead but couldn't take advantage until Weems' shot.
Conn responded with a 3-pointer by Vadas to make it 46-39. The Camels scored 12 of their remaining 16 points from the free throw line.
"Both losing, both being from New London and Coast Guard has all tough kids; they always have tough kids," said Vadas, who led the team coming into the game with 20.2 points per game and 55 3-pointers.
"It's nice to finally get a win. We've been in an offensive funk for a couple games. The conference games we played were tough, but as long as we play hard ... this definitely brings the morale up."