Feb. 26, 2010
PROVIDENCE, RI-Antone Gray's jump shot with 6.3 seconds remaining broke a 72-72 tie and host Rhode Island College went on to defeat the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's basketball team, 74-72, in the semi-finals of the Little East Conference Tournament at the Murray Center Friday evening.
Gray's shot decided a back-and-forth battle that saw neither team lead by more than three points for the final six and a half minutes.
Senior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell) broke a 65-65 tie with two free throws that gave the Corsairs a 67-65 lead with 3:26 remaining, Gray came back and connected on a three-pointer that put the Anchormen on top, 68-6, with 3:03 to play. Darius Debnam's lay-up gave the Anchormen a three-point lead, and Shelton and Debnam each hit a pair of free throws that left RIC with a 72-69 lead with 1:55 remaining.
A lay-up by junior forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS) cut the lead to 72-71 with 1:33 left. Shelton was fouled by Debnam and converted one of two free throws to tie the score with 41 seconds left, setting the stage for Gray's game-winning shot.
RIC got off to a good start, building an 11-point lead with 8:23 remaining in the first half. The Anchormen led, 38-27 with 3:40 left in the first half, but the Corsairs got a pair of lay-ups from sophomore center Lance Greene (Dorchester, MA/Charlestown HS/UMass Lowell) and one from Stephens to make it 38-33 with 1:01 remaining. Gray hit a pair of free throws, but Stephens hit a three-pointer with eight seconds left in the first half to cut the lead to 40-36 at halftime.
Greene led UMD with 23 points; Stephens added 20 and Shelton contributed 11. Mason Choice led the Anchormen with 20 points, Jake Grimes had 15 and Gray added 13. Greene had 10 rebounds for the Corsairs, while Grimes had nine as RIC out-rebounded UMass Dartmouth, 38-35.
"I was proud of our team, they did a great job and followed the game plan," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We forced them to shoot jump shots. We wanted to make them score from the perimeter, and a couple of plays one way or the other, and it would have been our game. Antone Gray made a couple of big shots for them. I think (sophomore point guard) Paul (Rose, Boston, MA/North Cambridge Catholic HS/Mass Bay CC) being in foul trouble hurt us, but (junior guard) John (Kanarski, Marblehead, MA/Marblehead HS) came in and gave us some valuable minutes."
The Corsairs dropped to 18-9 with the defeat, while the Anchormen improved to 17-10 with the victory. Rhode Island College advances to play Western Connecticut State or Eastern Connecticut State in Saturday's LEC Championship game.