Nov. 22, 2009
by John Cabral
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA- After losing a two-point heartbreaker in their own tournament Friday night, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team rebounded nicely on Saturday, defeating visiting Springfield 76-70 in the consolation game of the annual Hampton Inn Classic at the Tripp Athletic Center.
"We were hoping to come out of this tournament with a championship," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "But today was our championship at one o'clock."
The Corsairs had to survive a scare in the final two minutes, as Pride senior forward Pat Crean (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y./Sleepy Hollow HS) scored with 1:30 to play to draw Springfield to within 72-68. Subsequently, Crean received two opportunities from the free throw line, but missed one attempt each time. The Pride took an offensive rebound off his miss and called timeout trailing by two with 35.3 seconds to play. After the timeout, Springfield turned it over on an errant pass by sophomore point guard Conner Flynn (Marlborough, Mass/Marlborough HS).
The Corsairs then iced the game on four free throws, two by sophomore guard Paul Rose (Boston, Mass./North Cambridge Catholic HS/Mass Bay CC) and two by senior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, Mass./Brockton HS).
Senior guard Tyler Turturo (Shelton, Conn./Shelton HS) gave the Corsairs a big lift off the bench in the second half. With the game tied at 54, Turturo turned a steal into a breakaway layup and followed with a three-pointer on the next Corsair possession to give them a 59-56 advantage with nine minutes to play. A minute later, Turturo hit another trey to make it 64-57.
The Shelton, Conn. native finished the game with 11 points on four of seven shooting. UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste was excited by Turturo's strong performance. "He sparked us," Baptiste said. "Tyler was the guy today. He played with quickness, had a deflection and a steal, and a couple threes. I thought he was a real shot in the arm."
Baptiste continues to preach intensity to a team which carried top ten rankings in all national polls into the opening week. "They've got to come out like junkyard dogs every game and work hard in practices as well as in the game, and that's what I'm trying to tell them," Baptiste said. "The intensity factor is huge."
Aftee missing crucial shots in the final minute of Friday night's loss to the University of New England, seniors Walker and Jeff Macchi (Franklin, Mass./Franklin HS) showed no ill effects. Macchi led the Corsairs in scoring with 16 points along with seven rebounds and six steals. Walker posted 10 points, nine rebounds, and four assists while making all five of his free throws.
Despite fouling out for the second consecutive game, sophomore center Lance Greene (Dorchester, Mass/Charlestown HS/UMass Lowell) tallied 15 points along with four rebounds, three blocks and three steals. Fellow Dorchester native and junior forward Brandon Stephens (Newton North HS) also hit double figures with ten points.
The Springfield Pride were led by junior forward Matthew Cavalieri (West Warwick, R.I./West Warwick HS), who put up a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds on 8 of 14 shooting. Crean scored 13 points, while teammates Flynn and freshman guard Colby Verge (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) scored nine points apiece.
The Corsairs struggled from beyond the arc, making only seven of 24 attempts for 29.2 percent. "I always tell the kids I don't want to live and die by the threes," Baptiste said. "I want a little of both: something on the perimeter, and something on the post." While the Corsairs were outrebounded by a 44-34 margin, they were able to make up for it by turning Springfield over 26 times.
Saturday marked senior forward V.J. Divine's (Brookline, Mass./Brookline HS) season debut, playing his first three minutes of the season after offseason knee surgery. Divine's return was much faster than expected. Senior forward Brandon Shelton, also returning from offseason knee surgery, played fifteen minutes in his second game back. "Neither one is game ready, but you've got to get them ready with little spurts at a time," Baptiste said. "Hopefully those spurts can get longer and longer soon."
Macchi and Springfield's Matt Cavalieri were named to the All-Tournament team. Wheelock senior forward Sherard Robbins (Malden, Mass./Malden HS) earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player award, while teammate sophomore guard Max Kaim (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cypress Bay HS) was named to the all-tournament team. The University of New England also had two players receive individual honors, as sophomore guard Victor Oruonyehu (Austin, Texas/Crockett HS) and sophomore forward Quentin Thompson (Austin, Texas/William B. Travis HS) were named to the all-tournament team.
The Corsairs improved to 2-1 with the victory, while the Pride dropped to 1-3 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will return to action when they host Brandeis Tuesday evening. Springfield will host Keene State Tuesday evening.