Jan. 24, 2009
DANBURY, CT-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team converted five free throws in the final 34 seconds and held on to defeat host Western Connecticut State, 84-78, in the second game of a Little East Conference doubleheader at Feldman Arena Saturday.
The Colonials, who trailed, 56-43 with 16:23 remaining, rallied to cut UMass Dartmouth's lead to a single point, 79-78 when WCSU's Tyshawn Gillespie hit a three-pointer. On the ensuing possession, junior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell) drew a foul and hit one of two free throws to make it 80-78. After an ECSU turnover, junior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS) hit two free throws with 16 second later to extend the lead to 82-78. The Colonials failed to score on their next possession, and sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS) converted a pair of free throws with one second remaining to put the game away.
The teams traded the lead back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the game. A lay-up by junior forward V.J. Divine (Brookline, MA/Brookline HS) with 8:48 left in the first half put the Corsairs ahead for good, 22-21. A 20-11 run, capped by a pair of three-pointers from Shelton, gave UMass Dartmouth a 42-32 advantage with 1:23 left in the first half and the Corsairs went to the locker room with a 44-36 lead at intermission.
WCSU fought back in the second half, using a 22-13 run to whittle a Corsair 10-point lead to one on a pair of free throws by Gillespie with 5:09 remaining. The game remained close until Gillespie hit his three-pointer and UMD responded by hitting free throws at the end.
"It was a hard-fought game that came right down to the wire," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We hit some big shots and made some good stops down the stretch, and we made our free throws when we needed to. We had a 13 point lead, but they hit some deep threes and came back. It was a tough game and a physical game and our guys responded very well."
Shelton led the Corsairs with 26 points, Walker added 18 and Stephens contributed 16. Leroy Mayers and Dashon Jennings each scored 17 points for Western Connecticut, while Gillespie had 13 and Dewayne Dickens added 11. Senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS) had 10 assists and five steals for the Corsairs. Junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS) had seven rebounds for the Corsairs, but WCSU's Mark Redding grabbed eight as the Colonials out rebounded UMD, 41-33.
The Corsairs improved to 14-2 and 6-1 in the Little East Conference with the victory, while the Colonials dropped to 8-7 and 3-4 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will return to action when they visit UMass Boston Tuesday evening.