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Birrell gets it done the old-fashioned way

Birrell fashioned three three-point plays during a three-minute span in the second half to lead Salve Regina over Gordon, 71-63.
Birrell fashioned three three-point plays during a three-minute span in the second half to lead Salve Regina over Gordon, 71-63.

NEWPORT, R.I. - Graduate student Ryan Birrell (Scituate, R.I.) scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to lead Salve Regina University men's basketball to a 71-63 win over Gordon College in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action in Newport.

The Seahawks (15-8; 13-3 CCC) swept the season series from the Fighting Scots (8-15; 7-9 CCC) to maintain a two-game lead in the league standings. Salve Regina defeated second-place Wentworth Institute of Technology (11-5) by 30 points, 91-61, in Boston on Wednesday.

Birrell had three layups in the first three and a half minutes of the contest today, but was held scoreless the rest of the first half. His layup at 16:34 in the first gave Salve Regina a 10-4 lead.

After Isiah Pringle (Queens, N.Y.) hit a 3-pointer for a nine-point lead, Gordon sophomore guard Park Thomas (Scottsdale, Ariz.) scored the next three baskets to close within three (13-10). Seahawk sophomore Joshua Hohlfelder (Noank, Conn.) started a 9-2 run with a layup and finished it with a 3-pointer to give Salve Regina its largest lead of the game (22-12 at the 9:34 mark of the first).

Salve Regina had only one more field goal in the first half, a layup at 2:25 from Patrick Dinneen (Medfield, Mass.), and relied on the strength of its free-throw shooting with eight points from the charity stripe in the final nine to take a 32-25 advantage into the break. Dinneen and Brendan Canova (Edina, Minn.) each netted four free throws down the stretch.

Opening the second half, Canova canned a pair of 3-pointers but the Scots outscored the Seahawks 11-6 in the first three minutes. Freshman forward Jason Dempsey (Wallingford, Conn.) had three baskets in the paint during the run.

After a Dinneen 3-pointer gave Salve Regina a five-point lead (41-36), junior forward David Dempsey (Wallingford, Conn.) started an 11-0 run for Gordon while scoring three lefty layups. With Gordon leading by six (47-41), Seahawk sophomore Jeff Bielefeld (Littleton, Mass.) ended the run with a pair of free throws.

Dinneen followed with two more free throws before Alex Carnes (Phoenix, Ariz.) traded a 3-pointer for a layup from Pringle. Birrell then tied the game at 50-50 with the first of his three layup and a free throw, old-fashioned three-point plays. Each came during a 16-4 run for the Seahawks which included a 3-pointer from Canova and a jumper in the paint from Bielefeld.

Birrell's final layup, which did not include a free throw, put Salve Regina ahead by seven (63-56) with 3:49 to play. Thomas hit a long 3-pointer following a Scot timeout and the younger Dempsey added a layup to close within two (63-61) with 1:14 left in the game.

With under a minute to play, Birrell dribbled to the right side before finding Pringle back at the top for a 3-pointer, giving Salve Regina a two-possession cushion. Gordon turned the ball over on a traveling violation and Birrell made a pair of free throws for a three-possession advantage.

D. Dempsey (18), Thomas (16), and J. Dempsey (12) reached double-figure scoring for the visitors, the latter also grabbing 10 rebounds. Birrell, Canova (13), Pringle (12), Dinneen (11) also scored in double-digits for the Seahawks who were outrebounded, 39-to-29.

The Seahawks host Nichols College on Tuesday in the final regular-season home game for Birrell (8 p.m.). Gordon hosts its last regular season home game as well with Wentworth coming in for a visit.