March 13, 2009
LANCASTER, PA-Friday the 13th was not a good luck charm for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team in their NCAA Division III Sectional semi-final playoff game against DeSales of Allentown, PA, at the Mayser Center at Franklin & Marshall University Friday evening.
The Bulldogs outscored the Corsairs, 20-3 during the final 7:26 and went on to a 67-59 victory.
UMass Dartmouth, which led by a single point at halftime, 28-27, scored 17 of the first 25 points in the second half en route to a 45-35 lead with 14:02 remaining. Sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS) and junior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA/ Brockton HS) scored all the points during the run, with Stephens connecting three times from the field and Walker hitting twice. DeSales came back with a 9-2 run to make it 47-44, with Rob Schubach capping the run with a three-pointer and a lay-up.
A three-pointer by junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS) and a pair of free throws by Stephens allowed the Corsairs to open up a 56-47 advantage with 7:26 remaining. The Bulldogs scored the game's next 13 points, taking a 57-56 lead on a three-pointer by Matt Zwetolitz with 3:47 left.
Senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridg, MA/Cambrudge Rindge & Latin HS) ended the run when he made one of two free throws with 1:29 left to make it 60-57. But that was the first point for UMD in nearly six minutes, and they never led again. Ed Lapinski's lay-up with 1:20 left made it 62-57, and the Bulldogs hit five of six free throws in the final 43 seconds to preserve their advantage.
Neither team caught fire in the first half. Junior forward Brandon Shelton's (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell) jumper with 15:14 left in the first half gave the Corsairs their first and largest lead of the half, 9-7. DeSales never led by more than three points and a jump shot by Freeman with 39 seconds remaining in the first half allowed UMass Dartmouth to hold a 28-27 lead at intermission.
Shelton led the Corsairs with 13 points, while Freeman added 11. Darnell Braswell of the Bulldogs was the game's high scorer with 15 points; Lapinski added 14 and Brian Hunter contributed 11. Macchi had eight rebounds, but Lapinski grabbed 12 as DeSales out rebounded UMD, 32-22. The Corsairs forced 25 turnovers while committing 16, but made just five of 28 shots from three-point range and made eight of 18 free throws while shooting 42.6 per cent from the field to 59.1 per cent for DeSales.
"We had our opportunities, but we didn't capitalize on them," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "They made some big shots, they threw it over the top of their press, and they hit a lay-up and they hit a big three-pointer. They slowed it down, and instead of playing at our pace, we didn't run good offensive sets, and we didn't make many free throws down the stretch. It is a disappointing loss, but we had a great year. We went much further than we went last year, and it was a good experience for our team."
UMass Dartmouth dropped to 27-4 with the defeat, while DeSales improved to 25-5 with the victory. The Corsairs finished the season tying two records-the 27 victories equal their most wins ever in a season, while the 31 games they played also ties a single-season mark. The Bulldogs advanced to play the winner of the game between Salem State and host Franklin & Marshall Saturday for a spot in next weekend's Final Four.