March 5, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team will make its second consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament appearance hoping for a different result than they got last year.
The Corsairs, who earned a first round bye last year and then lost to Coast Guard, open tournament action Friday night in the second game of a four-team regional tournament against Baruch College of New York at the Harrington Auditorium at Worcester Polytechnic Institute at 8:00 p.m. The host Engineers will play Husson at 6 p.m. The regional championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, with the regional winner advancing to next weekend's Sweet Sixteen.
UMass Dartmouth, which had the sixth best record in the nation at 25-3, faces a team that went 23-5 and finished first in the City University of New York Athletic Conference during the regular season with a 13-0 mark. The Bearcats lost to Brooklyn College in last Saturday's championship game, 89-69.
"Everybody that makes the NCAA Tournament is a good team," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "They're a big, strong, physical team, they pound the boards, and they have two very good players in the backcourt. They have a point guard who is quick and can shoot the three, and a two guard who can score from anywhere on the floor."
The tempo of the game could be decisive. "They fit the mold of a lot of teams we played this year," said Baptiste. "They look like a bigger, stronger, slower team. We will try to make the game a little bit quicker, and, hopefully, force them into the type of game that they're not used to playing."
WPI finished with a 20-6 record after losing to Springfield in the semi-finals of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Tournament, and Husson was 16-11 and won the North Athletic Conference title. "I like our chances," said Baptiste. "I am familiar with WPI and Husson, so I am optimistic about going into this bracket."
Baptiste foresees a tough contest. "We're going to have to force other teams to make turnovers, we're going to have to take care of the basketball ourselves, and hopefully, shoot a pretty good percentage," said Baptiste. "I'm happy with my team's effort. We do a great job of playing well together on the offensive end, and our intensity on the defensive end is what's been carrying us. Our kids are excited to be playing in the NCAA Tournament, and I'm looking forward to a great effort from our guys."