February 25, 2014

Corsairs Advance To Little East Semifinals

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — University of Massachusetts Dartmouth sophomore Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) posted a double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds to power the Corsairs to an 81-68 victory over Keene State College in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 Little East Men's Basketball Championship tournament this evening at the Tripp Athletic Center.

UMass Dartmouth advanced to the semifinal round for the first time since 2010, avenging its one-point loss from the Owls this past Saturday. The Corsairs will face second-seeded Rhode Island College on Friday night at Eastern Connecticut State University. The semifinal game times will be released by the conference office tomorrow morning. Keene State completed its season with an overall record of 8-17.

Abraham connected on 5-for-16 from the field to lead four Corsairs in double digits in scoring and matched his season-high in rebounds with 18. Freshman Ryan Walsh (North Dighton, Mass.) poured in 18 points, pulled in eight rebounds, and dished out three assists, while sophomore Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) registered 18 points, five boards, and four helpers. Freshman Tucker Bouchard (Kingston, Mass.) completed the UMD contingent in double figures with 13 points. Senior Steven Handy (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) came off the bench to produce nine points and eight rebounds. The hosts enjoyed a 56-42 advantage in the glass.

Sophomore Nate Howard (Cheshire, Conn.) paced the Owls with 16 points and six rebounds. Classmate Tre Tipton (Stamford, Conn.) scored 14 points, while sophomore Nick Gagliolo (Peabody, Mass.) chipped in with 11. Junior Tom Doyle (Wallingford, Conn.) hauled in a team-high nine rebounds for the visitors.

UMass Dartmouth connected on its first three attempts from downtown to jump out to an early 13-7 advantage. Bouchard opened the scoring with a triple, while Walsh sank back-to-back trifectas to give the hosts the early momentum.  The Corsairs were able to keep their visitors at an arm's length for the opening 20 minutes of action. Abraham converted on a lay-up from Walsh to push the hosts lead to 12 points, 34-22, with three minutes, 37 remaining in the half. Freshman Matt Sherlock (Melrose, Mass.) hit a pair of jumpers to bridge the gap to eight points, but UMass Dartmouth entered the locker room with a 40-29 advantage thanks to a 3-pointer from Akanni.

Keene State came charging out of the gates in the second stanza, registering 11 of the first 15 points. Tipton fueled the surge with six points, while Howard contributed four points to whittle the halftime deficit to five points, 45-40.  The Owls were able to make it a one possession contest with 12:37 left on the clock, but the Corsairs utilized a 9-2 run to create some breathing room. Walsh sparked the run with a triple and Handy netted a jumper in the paint to cap the surge to push the UMD lead to 56-48.

Keene State refused to go quietly as the visitors responded with a 10-2 surge to trim its deficit to two points, 60-58, with just over five minutes remaining in regulation. Howard scored six unanswered points and Gagliolo finished the flurry with a jumper to force an UMass Dartmouth timeout.

The Corsairs regained their composure and control of the contest following the break. Handy jumpstarted a decisive 9-1 run with a foul shot and a lay-up, while Akanni added five consecutive points. Walsh capped the surge with a fastbreak layup to extend the hosts lead back to double digits.

The Owls were able to slice their deficit to eight points twice over the final minute of regulation, but UMass Dartmouth sealed the victory from the foul line. The Corsairs made 11-for-15 from the charity stripe down the stretch to fend off any potential Keene State comeback.

UMass Dartmouth shot 39.7 percent (27-for-68) from the field, while limiting Keene State to just 34.8 percent (24-for-69) and 10 percent (2-for-20) from behind the 3-point arc.