Hamilton College's Andrew Groll '19 rolled in a hook shot with .8 seconds remaining and the nationally ranked No. 5 Continentals inched past the Trinity College Bantams 72-70 in NESCAC action at Margaret Bundy Scott Field House on Sunday afternoon.
Michael Grassey '19 led Hamilton (13-0, 1-0 NESCAC) with 16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal. Kena Gilmour '20 dropped in 15 points and grabbed two steals. Groll totaled 15 points and eight rebounds, and Sayo Denloye '20 added 12 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Nick Seretta scored a game-high 20 points with two 3-pointers for Trinity (9-5, 0-2). Donald Jorden tallied 19 points and 11 board, and Connor Merinder finished with 10 points. Christian Porydzy added eight points and four assists.
The visitors jumped out to a commanding 19-4 lead with 13:47 remaining in the first half before Gilmour scored all eight points in an 8-3 Hamilton run, making the score 22-12 at 11:12. Hamilton stayed within 12 points for the next five minutes before Seretta and Jorden banked in back-to-back layups to give the Bantams a 32-19 cushion at the 5:35 mark.
Denloye immediately pushed the ball up the floor and found Spencer Kendall '21 in the left corner. Kendall passed back to Denloye and the 5-foot, 11-inch guard drilled a jumper from downtown that sparked a 10-0 run for the Continentals. Peter Hoffmann '19 followed with a layup, Groll knocked down two free throws and Grassey went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe to cut Hamilton's deficit to three points at 32-29 with 2:33 left. Groll scored the last six points for the Continentals, including a buzzer-beating offensive board and layup, and Hamilton headed into halftime down 36-34.
Neither team gained larger than a five-point lead for the remainder of the contest. Grassey found Tim Doyle '19 for an open 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half to give Hamilton its first lead at 37-36. Trinity regained the lead with back-to-back layups at 18:47 and 18:17, but Hamilton took the lead back with jump shots by Doyle and Gilmour and a 3-pointer by Grassey.
The seesaw battle continued as the Bantams scored nine unanswered points for their largest lead of the second half at 50-45 with 12:57 left. Grassey responded with a basket from beyond the arc that kick-started a 9-1 Hamilton run. Denloye followed with a 3-pointer that tied the score at 51-all and Grassey ended the streak with another jumper from deep range at 11:02.
Hamilton came back to tie the game twice in the closing minutes. Groll swished a jump shot to lock the score at 61-61 with 5:04 to go. It was then Gilmour's turn to tie the score with 32 seconds left when he danced through traffic and threw up a circus layup that made it 70-70. Trinity was whistled for carrying the ball on the perimeter with nine seconds left and turned it back over to the Continentals. Grassey passed the ball down low to Groll and he delivered his game-winning, left-handed hook shot.
Hamilton hits the road for a NESCAC game against Wesleyan University on Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. in Middletown, Conn.