DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Sophomore Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.) scored 19 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:53 remaining, as UMass Dartmouth extended its winning streak to seven straight with an 80-75 Little East Conference men’s basketball victory over Western Connecticut Thursday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center.
The host Corsairs (11-4, 5-1 LEC), whose current winning streak is the program’s longest in nearly nine years, received nine points from senior Atakan Akcam (Ankara, Turkey) and built a pair of eight point first half advantages before settling for a 32-29 edge at the break. UMass Dartmouth extended that margin to seven (40-33) in the opening 2:39 after intermission on senior Arinze Obiora’s (Hyde Park, Mass.) three-pointer, but the visiting Colonials (9-5, 3-2 LEC) responded with a 15-5 run in less than three minutes to take a 48-45 cushion on senior Aaron Samuel’s (Stratford, Conn.) trey with 14:40 to play.
After an Ashworth triple tied the score 32 seconds later, Western Connecticut built a pair of four point leads before the Corsairs used a 9-0 run to take a six-point advantage (62-56) on freshman Adam Seablom’s (Lakeville, Mass.) lay-in with 6:44 remaining. The Colonials answered with a 10-2 run of their own to grab their final edge of the day (66-64) on senior Geary McLeod’s (New London, Conn.) conventional three-point play with 4:25 remaining, and after the game tied for the sixth and final time at 68-68, Ashworth drained a trey from the right corner to give the hosts the lead for good before hitting another three-pointer with 36 seconds to play for a six-point Corsair cushion. The visitors crept to within five in the final 11 ticks, but a pair of Obiora free throws iced UMass Dartmouth’s triumph.
Ashworth connected for five three-pointers while adding six rebounds and four assists in the win for the Corsairs, who received 16 points, eight boards and three assists from Akcam. Obiora finished 15 points (including a perfect 8-8 at the foul line), seven caroms and three steals for UMass Dartmouth, which received 13 points and four steals from freshman Sean Leahy (Hanson, Mass.). Freshman Marcus Azor (Brockton, Mass.) chipped in with seven points and six assists for the winners, who received five points and three steals from Seablom. The Corsairs shot 44 percent (24-55) from the floor overall and canned 12 from behind the arc, as the hosts converted 20 of 22 attempts from the charity stripe for the contest.
Senior Dashard Rodriguez (Trumbull, Conn.) scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in the setback for Western Connecticut, which received 16 points and four boards from Samuel as well as 13 points, six caroms and three steals from McLeod. Junior Ronald Jefferson (Brooklyn, N.Y.) also netted 13 points and grabbed five rebounds on the day for the Colonials, who shot 46 percent (30-66) from the field and scored 44 points in the paint while holding a 37-33 rebounding advantage on the afternoon.
UMass Dartmouth heads to Castleton, Vt. on Saturday afternoon to take on Castleton in a Little East Conference clash that tips-off at 4:00 pm, while Western Connecticut hosts Plymouth State in a Little East match-up on Saturday afternoon in Danbury, Conn. that tips-off at 3:00 pm.
(Photo Credit: Lyrik Gelmete '21)