LANCASTER, Pa. -- Four players scored in double figures as No. 17 Franklin & Marshall defeated Eastern Connecticut State 56-52 in the championship game of the Sponaugle New Year's Tournament. The victory gives F&M its 25th Sponaugle New Year's title as the Diplomats improved to 10-1. 

The contest started out slow as both teams struggled to score resulting in a tie at 13 at 11:20 in the first half. F&M picked up the pace and went on a 10-0 run in the next seven minutes to go up 23-13 with 4:23 left until the break. The double-digit lead did not last for long when the Warriors (7-5) slowly chipped away and finished the half with a strong 6-0 run to pull within three at halftime.

F&M traded buckets with ECSU to start out the second half before Ed Early gave F&M a five-point edge six minutes into the half. Early netted four more in an 8-1 F&M run that gave the Diplomats a 43-33 edge with 8:48 left to play. Matt Porter added six points in the next four minutes to help the Diplomats maintain a double-digit lead at 4:35.

The Warriors came alive at the four-minute mark and went on a 9-0 run to come within three with just 34 seconds left in the game. Porter hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe before Tyler Hundley netted two for the ESCU to bring the Warriors within two with just three seconds left.

Brandon Beckford was immediately fouled on the ensuing possession netted both shots to put the game out of reach in the 56-52 victory.

Max Brewer scored 11 points to earn MVP honors, while Jon Salandra and Porter both finished with 12. Salandra had a solid line score with eight boards to go along with four blocks and four steals. Beckford finished with 11 and Early had eight points to go along with eight rebounds.

Chris Robitaille had a game-high 17 for the Warriors and Trachone Preston finished with 10.