Jan. 20, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-Visiting Rhode Island College made 11 of 12 free throws in the final minute and 23 seconds and held off the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team, 69-66, in the second game of a Little East Conference doubleheader at the Tripp Athletic Center Tuesday evening. The loss broke a nine-game winning streak for the Corsairs.
UMass Dartmouth broke from a 30-29 halftime lead to score the first eight points of the second half, getting back-to-back three-pointers from sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS) and junior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS) and another jumper from Stephens to seize a 38-29 advantage. But RIC came back with an 8-0 run of their own to take a 40-38 lead, and then taking the lead for good moments later, 44-42, on a layup by freshman forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI/Rogers HS) with 12:10 remaining.
Choice's free throws started an 8-0 RIC run that left them ahead, 50-42 with 10:18 remaining, but the UMD got a pair of treys from Stephens sandwiched around a pair of free throws from senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridge, MA/ Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS) to cut the lead to 52-51 with 4:14 to play.
A pair of free throws by RIC's senior guard Cameron Stewart (Newport, RI/Rogers HS) stretched their advantage to 60-53, before Walker hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 60-56 with 1:16 left. A free throw by Choice gave RIC a 69-63 lead with five seconds remaining, but junior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell) hit a long three-pointer to make it 69-66 with three-tenths of a second remaining. The ensuing in-bounds pass was deflected, and Freeman tossed up an off-balance shot that went in, but it came after the final buzzer had sounded.
"It's a disappointing loss," said Corsair Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We didn't play UMass Dartmouth basketball. Our defense was not aggressive, and our offense was stagnant. Give credit to Rhode Island College they forced us into doing things we're not used to doing, and they disrupted what we tried to accomplish."
Stephens led UMass Dartmouth with 20 points, Shelton added 19, and Walker had 13. Choice had a season-high 22 for RIC and senior guard Tirrell Hill (Bronx, NY/All Hallows HS) added 15. Junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS) had six rebounds for the Corsairs, but RIC's sophomore forward Darius Debnam (Mattapan, MA/Minuteman HS) grabbed 12 as the Anchormen out rebounded UMass Dartmouth, 45-33. The Corsairs made 11 of 25 shots from three-point range for 44 per cent, but just 12 of 44 from inside the arc, finishing at 23 of 69 overall for 33.3 per cent to RIC's 21 of 44 for 47.7 per cent.
The Corsairs dropped to 13-2 and 5-1 in the Little East Conference with the loss, while the Anchormen improved to 11-4 and 5-1 with the victory. UMass Dartmouth will return to action when they visit Western Connecticut State in the second game of a Little East Conference doubleheader on Saturday. RIC will host UMass Boston Saturday.