Cougars hold on to edge Mercyhurst North East

A hot start to Thursday night's game against visiting Mercyhurst North East had the Genesee Community College men's basketball team out to a 26-9 lead early in the first half of a big, late-season Western New York Athletic Conference clash.

Terryl Coombs scored six of Genesee's first nine points during the fast start and the Cougars were on their way to avenging a January 26th loss at Mercyhurst. The Saints responded, however, and went on a 14-0 run of their own to inch back to within three with four minutes to play in the opening period. GCC held a 32-29 lead at the half.

In the second half, the Saints continued to battle and took a 45-44 lead, six minutes in. Both teams exchanged small runs and with six minutes left, the Cougars held a 60-59 advantage. The next five offensive possessions helped GCC to earn their fifth conference victory of the season, as the Cougars scored 15 points in those five possessions, including two Donte Meredith three-point baskets, a traditional three-point play from Vaughn Boler and E.J. Blackwell and a three-point basket from Joe Gray.

Up 74-64 with three minutes left, Genesee did allow Mercyhurst to get back to within three at 74-71 with under a minute to play, but the Cougars went a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line during the final seconds and held on for an 80-73 win.

Boler and Meredith each scored a game high 23 points. Meredith hit five 3pt baskets on the night. Boler also grabbed 14 rebounds. Coombs finished with 11 rebounds and six points, Gray added 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Blackwell chipped in 15 points.

The win improves Genesee to 5-6 in conference play and 14-13 overall on the year. They will host Niagara County Community College on Thursday night for an 8pm start.