Feb. 24, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team outscored visiting UMass Boston by eight points in each half and methodically defeated the Beacons, 79-63, in a Little East Conference quarter-final playoff game at the Tripp Athletic Center Tuesday evening.
The win was the 500th career victory for Head Coach Brian Baptiste, who is now 500-213 in his 26th season at UMass Dartmouth. Baptiste is the second UMass Dartmouth Head Coach to win his 500th game in three days. Head Hockey Coach John Rolli won his 500th game when the Corsairs defeated Johnson & Wales Saturday evening.
The Corsairs, who entered the game ranked 18th nationally in the latest d3hoops.com poll, used a 15-3 run late in the first half to open up a 30-19 lead with 4:40 remaining. Junior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell) contributed three layups during the run, junior guard Tyler Turtoro (Shelton, CT/Shelton HS) added a layup and a three-pointer, and junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS) contributed a layup.
The Beacons got a three-pointer from Anthony Brewster and a three-point play from Ernst Jean to cut the UMass Dartmouth advantage to 36-32 three minutes into the second half. Junior forward V.J. Divine (Brookline, MA/Brookline HS) and sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS) followed with layups, and Shelton hit a trey to make it 43-32. UMass Boston rallied, and a layup by Jean cut the deficit to 68-60 with 1:28 remaining, but the Beacons could get no closer.
"It was a tough game, it was more about attitude and how we came out to play," said Baptiste. "We didn't come out with the intensity that we normally do, but I'm happy we got the win. We didn't look sharp. I'm not as concerned about the Xs and Os as I am about our motivation, which is the bottom line."
Shelton led all scorers with 24 points, Macchi added 16 and Stephens contributed 15. Jean led UMass Boston with 23 points, while Pat Joseph contributed 22. Shelton had 11 rebounds for the Corsairs and Joseph grabbed 12 for UMass Boston as UMass Dartmouth won the battle of the boards, 41-36.
The 500th win of his career meant more to Baptiste than just a number. "It's not a relief, it means much more to see our former players who came to help celebrate," said Baptiste. "The guys in the locker room will only see this opportunity between one and four times. I've been fortunate to be here 26 times."
"Brian's winning 500 games is a tremendous accomplishment," said UMass Dartmouth Director of Athletics Ian Day. "His achieving this milestone is a reflection of all of the time and effort Brian has dedicated not just to the basketball program, but also to UMass Dartmouth."
The Corsairs improved to 22-3 with the victory, while the Beacons fell to 4-21 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will advance to the LEC semi-finals against Western Connecticut State, a 58-56 winner at Plymouth State. The Corsairs and Colonials will meet at the Murray Center at Rhode Island College Friday evening. The championship game is set for 5:00 p.m. Saturday.