Corsairs Coast Past Colonials, 80-66

DANBURY, Conn. – Freshman guard Ryan Walsh (North Dighton, Mass.) scored 17 points and pulled in seven rebounds to lead the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to an 80-66 victory over Western Connecticut State University this evening in a Little East Conference men's basketball contest at Feldman Arena.

The Corsairs posted their first conference win of the season to raise their overall record to 7-4, while the Colonials were handed their first Little East loss and fell to 7-3.

Walsh connected on 5-for-10 from the field to lead three UMass Dartmouth players in double digits in scoring. Junior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) recorded 16 points and dished out a team-high four assists, while sophomore Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) registered 13 points. Classmate Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) collected a game-high 14 caroms to provide the visitors with a 44-36 edge on the boards.

In a closely-contest first 10 minutes of regulation, neither team was able to hold a lead that was greater more than one possession.  With the visitors holding a one-point advantage, Laga knocked down a jumper to spark a decisive 12-2 run to provide the Corsairs with some breathing room.  UMass Dartmouth utilized a well-balanced attack during the surge as five players factored into the scoring, while the Corsairs defense held Western Connecticut scoreless for a five-minute stretch to take a 26-15 lead.

The Colonials tried to stem the tide with a 3-pointer, but UMD countered with four straight points.  Jimmy Louissaint tried to keep Western within striking distance as he scored the hosts' final eight points, but the Corsairs entered the intermission leading 35-26. 

UMass Dartmouth rode Akanni's hot hand in the opening minutes of the second stanza as the Fitchburg, Mass. product poured in six straight points.  Louissant attempted to halt the visitors' momentum with a triple, but Walsh sandwiched a pair of lay-ups between a Laga jumper to extend the Corsairs lead to 43-29 with 17 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in regulation.

UMD sealed the victory with a 12-5 run at the midway point of the half, pushing its advantage to a game-high 22-points (63-41). The Corsairs maintained a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the contest.

Kendall Marquez led Western Connecticut with a game-high 20 points, on 6-for-18 from the floor. Louissaint joined Marquez in double figures with 11 points, while Joseph Groski matched Abraham's production on the glass with 14 rebounds.

UMass Dartmouth connected on 48.2 percent of its attempts from the field, while limiting the Colonials to just 32.3 percent and 27 turnovers.

The Corsairs return to Little East Conference action at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, when UMass Dartmouth travels to the University of Southern Maine.