February 11, 2014

Laga Helps Corsairs Rally Past Beacons

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth junior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to help the Corsairs rally past intra-state rival University of Massachusetts Boston, 81-71, this evening in a Little East Conference men's basketball contest at the Tripp Athletic Center.

UMass Dartmouth (14-8) won its second straight conference contest to move into sole possession of third place with a 7-4 mark in the league standings, while UMass Boston (6-16) remained winless in Little East action.

Laga connected on 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point arc to lead three Corsairs in double digits in scoring. Freshman Tucker Bouchard (Kingston, Mass.) nearly posted a double-double with 17 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) produced 15 points, while classmate Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) pulled in a game-high 11 rebounds and redirected four Beacon attempts.

Junior Luc Ulysse (Brooklyn, N.Y.) poured in a game-high 19 points, on 7-for-14 from the field, to pace four UMass Boston players in double figures. Classmate Carl Joseph (Brockton, Mass.) netted 12 points and hauled in nine rebounds, while sophomore Omar Benabicha (Saugus, Mass.) recorded 13 points and nine boards. Junior Quadry Allen (White Castle, La.) rounded out the visitors' contingent in double digits, scoring 14 points off the bench.

UMass Dartmouth shot 46.3 percent (31-for-67) from the field, including 46.7 percent (7-for-15) from downtown. The Corsairs limited the Beacons to 39.7 percent (25-for-63) from the floor and forced 23 turnovers. The visitors held a slight 44-40 edge on the glass.

UMass Boston built a game-high nine point lead (44-35) early in the second half, but the hosts utilized a 23-7 run to regain control of the contest. Sophomore Aven Jones (Beverly, Mass.) sank the front end of his trip to the foul line to fuel a mini 6-0 UMass Dartmouth run that was capped by a Laga triple. Ulysse tried to stem the tide with back-to-back jumpers, but Jones made his only field goal of the evening to spark a 17-3 surge. Bouchard converted a traditional 3-point play, while Laga followed suit with a trifecta to trim the deficit to one point (50-49).

Following a UMB free throw, sophomore Jacek Louisville (Worcester, Mass.) forged the fifth and final tie with a jumper. Bouchard sandwiched a pair of field goals between a Laga bucket to push the Corsairs' lead to six points (57-51) with just under eight minutes remaining in regulation.

The Beacons would not go quietly, as Allen scored five consecutive points, capped by a triple, to cut the hosts advantage to one possession. Laga responded with a 3-pointer followed by a fast break dunk from Akanni to build the lead back to eight points.

UMB was able to make it a one possession contest with 3:45 remaining on the clock, but UMass Dartmouth turned to its inside game as Akanni and Abraham were able to convert on consecutive trips. The Corsairs were able to keep their visitors at an arm's distance for the remainder of regulation as Abraham scored four of the hosts' final six points.

UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, when the Corsairs travel to Little East frontrunner Eastern Connecticut State University (17-5, 11-0 LEC).