PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- Sophomore Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.) scored 20 points, including a key three-pointer with 66 seconds remaining, as UMass Dartmouth scored 12 of the game’s final 16 points to notch an 88-81 Little East Conference men’s basketball victory over Plymouth State Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium.
The visiting Corsairs (17-6, 11-3 LEC), winners of four straight and 13 of their last 15 outings overall, overcame an 11-point second half deficit with a 25-9 run over a 6:36 stretch to take a five point lead (76-71) with 3:44 to play, but the host Panthers (12-12, 6-9 LEC) evened matters at 76 with a 5-0 run of their own in a 54 second span capped by freshman Dante Rivera’s (Methuen, Mass.) three-pointer. Freshman Sean Leahy (Hanson, Mass.) started UMass Dartmouth’s decisive run with a free throw that gave the visitors the lead for good, and Ashworth extended that margin to four with his fifth triple of the day that came with 1:06 remaining. Plymouth State crept back to within six on senior Mike Osgood’s (Nashua, N.H.) lay-up with 27 seconds to play, but four free throws by Ashworth and senior Arinze Obiora (Hyde Park, Mass.) sealed the Corsairs’ triumph.
The Panthers held a two-point advantage (31-29) with 5:47 to play in the opening half and used a closing 9-4 run to take a 40-33 lead at the break, and after UMass Dartmouth battled back to forge a 42-42 tie on Ashworth’s three-pointer 2:25 after intermission, the hosts scored 20 of the game’s next 29 points to take their largest lead of the day (62-51) on Rivera’s lay-in with 10:20 to play, setting the stage for the Corsairs’ furious comeback and late heroics in the closing minutes of action.
Obiora added 14 points and nine rebounds in the win for UMass Dartmouth, which received 14 points, seven boards and five assists from Leahy. Freshman Marcus Azor (Brockton, Mass.) chipped in with 12 points, four caroms and four assists for the visitors, while senior Atakan Akcam (Ankara, Turkey) completed a quintet of Corsairs in double figures with 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Harry Alexander (Washington, D.C.) added seven points and seven boards for the winners, who shot 43 percent (29-67) from the field overall and held a 41-34 rebounding advantage for the contest, as UMass Dartmouth converted 18 turnovers into 15 points.
Rivera paced four players in double figures with 18 points, eight assists, five steals and four rebounds in the setback for Plymouth State, which received 17 points and three boards from junior Joe Simpson (Manchester, N.H.) as well as 16 points and four caroms from junior Jaylen LeRoy (Manchester, N.H.). Osgood chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers, who received a near double-double effort of nine points and nine boards from freshman Manny Alisandro (Manchester, N.H.). The hosts shot 48 percent (31-64) from the floor and canned 10 three-pointers, but the Corsairs outscored Plymouth State by a 21-9 margin at the charity stripe on the afternoon.
UMass Dartmouth heads into Boston on Wednesday evening for a Little East Conference matchup with UMass Boston that tips-off at 7:30 pm, while Plymouth State entertains Southern Maine in a Little East clash on Wednesday evening at Foley Gymnasium that also tips-off at 7:30 pm.
(Photo Credit: Rainier Almonte '19)