PROVIDENCE, RI-Sophomore guard Mike Rotando (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ/Point Pleasant Beach HS) stole the ball and hit the go-ahead layup, then made two free throws with seven seconds remaining as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team held on to defeat host Johnson & Wales, 86-83 in overtime in a non-conference game at the Harborside Recreation Center Tuesday evening.
The Wildcats had taken an 83-82 lead on a pair of free throws by Tom Garrick, Jr. with 38 seconds left and had possession in the waning seconds when Rotando stole the ball from Esaie Touze and laid it in with eight seconds remaining to put the Corsairs on top, 84-83. After a JWU turnover, Rotando was fouled by Dan Barbour and hit both free throws to give UMD a three-point advantage. The Wildcats gained possession and called a pair of time outs, but Quarry Greenway missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired.
Johnson & Wales had a 74-69 lead with 1:10 remaining in regulation time, but junior forward Eleazar Clayton (Boston, MA/East Boston HS/Monroe CC) made a pair of layups to cut the Wildcats' lead to a single point. Barbour drew a foul and made one of two free throws with 24 seconds remaining, but the Corsairs worked a back door play on their final possession, with sophomore guard Jake Laga (Northampton, MA/Northampton HS) taking a pass from sophomore center Alex Rodrigues (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS) and tying the game with a layup with four seconds left.
Rotando led all scorers with 30 points, Laga added 16, Clayton contributed 15 and junior guard John Genkos (Worcester, MA/Doherty HS) had 10 for UMD. Garrick had 20 for JWU; Barbour added 19, Greenway had 12 and Frank Robinson scored 11.
"We've had a lot of these games and we've come up on the short end, so it's about time we came out ahead," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We made some big stops and some big steals, Elie (Clayton) made a couple of huge baskets for us at the end of regulation time, Jake Laga made a big play to tie it up, and Mike (Rotando) made a couple of huge plays in overtime. We were able to make some huge plays and finish things off tonight."
UMass Dartmouth improved to 1-8 with the victory, while Johnson & Wales fell to 4-5 with the defeat. The Corsairs will break for the holidays, returning to action when they host Regis January 2nd. The Wildcats will host Rhode Island College next Wednesday.