Feb. 27, 2009
PROVIDENCE, RI-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team outscored Western Connecticut State in the second half, 45-28S, and defeated the Colonials 96-73, in their Little East Conference semi-final playoff game at the Murray Center Friday night.
The Colonials jumped out on top, building a 30-20 lead with 11:06 left in the first half. The Corsairs reponded with a 13-2 run, which was started by a layup by junior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell), included a pair of baskets by junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS), and capped by a three-pointer by sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS). The run put UMD ahead, 33-32, with 6:41 remaining. WCSU got a three-pointer from Daquan Brooks and a jumper from Dewayne Dickens to take a 39-35 lead, but a 12-2 run that included a pair of treys from freshman forward Tom Henneberry (Lexington, MA/Lexington HS) put the Corsairs ahead, 47-41 with 1:17 left, and they never trailed again. UMass Dartmouth scored the first 13 points of the second half, built a 19-point advantage, and the Colonials never got closer than 16 points after that. "In the first 10 minutes, we were a little bit too excited, and Brandon Stephens kept us in the game with a few big baskets," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We were letting them catch the ball, and we changed things up and tried to deny them. Right around that time, Tommy (Henneberry) hit two big threes, and gave us a little bit of a cushion. In the second half, I think they got a little flustered by the press."
Stephens led the Corsairs with 19 points, Shelton and Henneberry each added 18, senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridge, MA/Rindge & Latin HS) had 13, and junior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA/.Brockton HS) had 10. Jennings had 16 for WCSU, Leroy Mayers added 14 and Brooks added 10. Macchi had four of UMD's 15 steals as the Corsairs forced 30 turnovers while committing 15, and Macchi and Shelton each had eight rebounds as UMass Dartmouth out rebounded the Colonials, 45-36.
The Corsairs improved to 24-3 with the victory, while the Colonials fell to 14-12 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will play Rhode Island College, a 78-50 winner against Keene State, in the Little East Conference championship game at 5:00 p.m. Saturday. "Our kids are very excited about playing in the championship game," said Baptiste. "We know what they're like, they know us, and we're not changing what we do. It's a matter of who does the job of executing as far as who wins the game."
The winner of that game earns the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championships. The pairings for the tournament will be announced Monday.