PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth freshman guard Tucker Bouchard (Kingston, Mass.) scored a game-high 20 points, but homestanding Rhode Island College was able to hold on for a 72-66 victory this evening in a Little East men's basketball contest at The Murray Center.
The Anchormen, winners of eight of their past 10 contests, raise their overall record to 12-6 and move into sole possession of second place in the conference standings with a 6-2 mark. The Corsairs (12-6) slipped to 5-2 in the league.
Bouchard registered 20 points for the sixth time on the season, connecting on 8-for-17 from the field. He also pulled in eight rebounds and handed out four assists. Junior Alex Rodrigues (Fall River, Mass.) made all seven of his attempts from the floor for a season-high 14 points, while collecting eight carooms. Classmate Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) also reached double digits in scoring with 13 points. Sophomore Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) hauled in a team-high nine boards and redirected three RIC attempts.
Junior Victor Smith led three Anchormen in double figures with 19 points, while grabbing five rebounds. Freshman Austin Cilley buried five three-pointers for 15 points, while junior Eric Alleyne finished with 12 points, a game-high seven assists, and five rebounds. Junior Chris Burton posted six points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
After the two teams traded baskets through the opening minutes, UMD pulled ahead of the hosts, 8-5, at the 16:20 mark on a basket from Laga and followed with a 14-7 run, capped off by a trey from Laga, to take a 22-12 lead over RIC with 8:08 left to play in the half. However, the Anchormen responded with a 19-9 run of their own to close out the frame, highlighted by Cilley's buzzer-beating three-pointer that sent the two teams into intermission tied, 31-31.
The two squads again exchanged buckets to kick off the second half, but this time it was the hosts who pulled ahead early. After a jumper from Laga cut UMD's deficit to one, 38-37, with 15:36 on the clock, Gause and sophomore Mike Neal responded with back-to-back layups to extend RIC's lead to five, 42-37, with 13:56 left to play.
The Anchormen jumped ahead by as many as six over the next few minutes, keyed by a three-pointer from Sanders at the 11:27 mark that made it, 49-43. However, UMD answered back with an 8-0 run to take a 52-49 lead with 9:12 on the clock, capped off by a layup from Bouchard.
Following a pair of quick layups from Smith and sophomore guard Jacek Louisville (Worcester, Mass.) that made it, 54-51, with 8:33 remaining, RIC surged ahead of the Corsairs thanks to eight unanswered points, including four from Gause, to put the hosts up, 59-54, at the 6:47 mark.
Rhode Island College would fend off UMass Dartmouth from there, as the visitors cut the deficit to two on several occasions but couldn't tie the game or take the lead. Alleyne scored six points over the final five minutes, including four free throws in the final 60 seconds, to help propel the Anchormen to the six-point victory.
The Anchormen shot 43 percent (29-for-68) from the floor, 38 percent (6-for-16) from beyond the three-point arc and 57 percent (8-for-14) from the charity stripe.
The Corsairs shot 44 percent (27-for-62) from the field, 29 percent (6-for-21) from downtown and 60 percent (6-for-10) from the free throw line.
Although RIC was outrebounded by UMD, 41-39, the Anchormen forced the visitors into 20 turnovers and committed just 14 turnovers of their own.
UMass Dartmouth will return to Little East action at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, when they host Western Connecticut State University (11-6, 4-4).
(Contributions from Rhode Island College sports information)