After opening the second half of the season with a victory, the 78s looked to carry that momentum into Sunday’s game against the New England Outtatowners, at East Somerville Community School.
At first, the game appeared to be a breeze for the 78s. However, it quickly transformed into a nail-biter, thanks to a chaotic fourth quarter. But in the end, Worcester once again prevailed and held on to win, 118-116.
Tony Gallo went on a tear in the first half of the game, accumulating 19 points. He had nine in the first quarter and ten in the second.
Worcester would be out in front at halftime, 55-41. In the third quarter, Kamahl Walker kept up the fast pace that the 78s had instituted from the beginning of the game, as he scored a layup to make it 57-41.
The 78s were all over New England throughout much of the first half of the game and that trend continued into the second half. That was evident thanks to Mark Cornelius, who singlehandedly toyed with the Outtatowners in the early part of the third.
Cornelius stuffed a shot from a New England player and then stole a pass and got an assist when he passed up court to Walker, who made an and-1 and free throw, to increase the lead to 19.
Cornelius would block another New England shot attempt from behind, which set up another basket for Walker, courtesy of Maurice Horton, as the two of them ran back up the court for a 2-on-1 advantage.
As New England tried to dribble back down court, Cornelius again stole the ball and passed it to Walker from above the key. Wide open, Walker easily sank the three-pointer to make it 66-44 Worcester.
New England would then go on a 7-0 run to make it 66-51. After Gallo made one of two free throws, the Outtatowners crept a bit closer with a three-point basket, which made it 67-54.
Jose Cruz Jr., would then make a layup for the 78s, but New England was fouled and made both free throws, to make the score 69-56.
Worcester maintained their 20-point advantage throughout the quarter, as they led at the end of it, 99-79. However, things began to unravel for them in the fourth quarter.
New England began the quarter by going on an 8-0 run. They scored two three-pointers to begin the quarter, which made the score 99-85.
Gallo was then stuffed on a shot and New England raced down the court and scored an easy layup, to make it 99-87.
Walker scored a field goal to put the 78s in triple digits, but New England scored another three-pointer, to make the score 101-90.
Sam Longwell was eventually fouled and made both free throws, which made it 105-92.
Longwell was then the center of a questionable foul call a few minutes later. With a little over seven minutes to play, Longwell dribbled up the court and was called for a charging foul, although the defensive player hadn’t established his position on the court.
The player who Longwell supposedly charged into simply moved over and put himself in front of Longwell, thereby tripping Longwell into him in the process.
A few minutes later, with Worcester up by 12, Longwell shot a three, but the ball bounced off the rim. Cruz went up for the rebound, but was smacked by another New England defenseman. No official blew on his whistle and the Outtatowners scores again to come to within 10 points.
Dimitri Floras scored a nice hooked basket to preserve the double-digit lead for the 78s, but New England kept coming back, as they scored a layup.
In the final minute of regulation, with Worcester now up 117-114, another questionable call occurred. Lee Vazquez missed a shot. Floras went for the rebound and jumped passed a New England player who also was attempting for the rebound, but the official blew on his whistle and called a foul on Floras.
Floras looked at the official in shock and asked, “Are you serious?” Floras jumped passed the defenseman and made no physical contact with him. Longwell had retrieved the ball for the 78s. Had the whistle not been blown, the 78s would’ve still had possession, and the Outtatowners would’ve had to foul them.
`But the ball was turned over. There was yet another questionable moment when New England dribbled back down. One player was trying to dribble around Longwell and Gallo and appeared to take three steps. Gallo, Floras and Cruz all asked the official for the call but a timeout instead was granted to New England.
After the timeout, Cruz was called for a foul. New England made both baskets to pull to within one.
Trying to avoid fouling, the Outtatowners played very tight on defense. However, they were running out of time and had to foul Longwell. Longwell made one of two shots. With 10 seconds remaining, New England nearly took the lead, as they made a layup. Only the shot didn’t count, as they called for a timeout, which inadvertently cost them their chance.
With six seconds remaining, a player from New England attempted a three-pointer. However, it was blocked by Cornelius, which also looked questionable.