November 19, 2013

Judges' Overrule Corsairs' Comeback, 96-90

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. –Junior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) registered a game-high 33 points, but the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team was unable to overcome a late first half surge, falling to visiting Brandeis University 96-90 this evening at the Tripp Athletic Center. 

Laga was the offensive catalyst for the Corsairs (2-1), converting on 11-for-15 from the floor.  The Northampton, Mass. product knocked down 6-for-7 from behind the three-point arc to keep the hosts within striking distance.  Sophomore Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) scored 16 points, while classmate Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) hauled in a team-high seven rebounds.

The Judges (2-0) featured a well-balanced attack as four out of their five starters reached double figures in scoring.  Senior Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla.) connected on 10-for-14 shooting from the field, while adding 11-for-14 from the foul line to pace the visitors with a career-high 32 points.  Classmate Ben Bartolous (Hillsborough, N.H.) scored 17 points, while freshman Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass.) and senior Alex Stoyle (Goffstown, N.H.) each added 13 points.  Vilmont also pulled in a team-high eight rebounds.

After both teams exchanged baskets over the opening six minutes of regulation, UMass Dartmouth used a 13-2 run to build a double-digit lead.  Laga capped the spurt with the final nine points, including back-to-back triples.  Brandeis tried to stem the tide with a jumper, but Laga and sophomore Steven Handy (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) accounted for the next five points to stretch the Corsairs lead to a game-high 14 points.

The Judges countered with the decisive run of the evening, outscoring the hosts 29-9 over the final six and a half minutes of the first stanza.  Moton single handily put Brandeis on his back, keying the surge with 20 points—including the final 15—to give the Judges a 45-39 advantage at the break.

Brandeis continued to ride its momentum at the beginning of the second half as Bartoldus scored the opening six points.  Following a UMD 3-pointer, the Judges rode Bartoldus' hot hand for the team's next five points and a 58-44 lead with 16 minutes remaining in regulation.

UMass Dartmouth utilized its long range shot to climb back into the ballgame as junior Josh Castillo (Lynn, Mass.) sank a pair of trifectas during a 10-1 run to whittle its deficit to 65-59. 

The Corsairs made another charge at Brandeis with a mini 7-2 surge at the five minute mark, as Laga scored four points and Akanni capped the run with a 3-pointer to bring the hosts within four. 

UMass Dartmouth would not be able to get any closer as the Judges salted away the clock from the charity stripe, knocking down nine of their final 10 attempts.  Morton hit five of his six shots to seal the win for the visitors.

UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 2 p.m. on Nov. 23, when the Corsairs travel to Salem State University for a non-conference contest.  Brandeis will return to the hardwood at 7 p.m. on Nov. 21, when the Judges host Framingham State.