Garrow Guides Warriors Past Corsairs

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team clinched the No. 1 seed in the Little East Conference tournament with a 79-73 victory over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth this afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

The Warriors (18-5) clinched at least a share of their second conference regular-season title in the past three years and moved within two wins of becoming the first Little East team in the 17-year history of the 14-game conference season to finish unbeaten (UMass Dartmouth is the only team to go unbeaten in 28 years of conference play, winning all 10 of its games in 1986-87 and 1992-93).  The Corsairs (14-9) slipped into a tie with Western Connecticut State University for third place.  The Colonials raced past Keene State College, 98-85, this afternoon in Danbury.

Senior Mike Garrow (Terryville, Conn.) poured in a career-high 31 points, on 11-for-16 from the field, to pace three Eastern players in double figures in scoring.  Sophomore Kevin Leumene (Stamford, Conn.) scored 15 points, while classmate Trachone Preston (Enfield, Conn.) registered 14.  Freshman Hugo Lindo (Enfield, Conn.) produced a season-high 18 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass.

Sophomore Steven Handy (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) came off the bench to lead UMass Dartmouth with 14 points.  Junior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) recorded 13 points, including three 3-pointers, while sophomore Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) and freshman Tucker Bouchard (Kingston, Mass.) each scored 12 points.  Sophomore Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) pulled in a team-high seven rebounds to help the Corsairs hold a 36-28 advantage on the boards.

Eastern built an early 13-point advantage just five minutes into regulation, but UMass Dartmouth responded with an 11-2 run to trim the deficit to 22-18.  Akanni produced five points, including ending the run with a traditional 3-point play, while Handy chipped in with four.  Trailing by four points with just over four minutes remaining in the haf, Bouchard scored four consecutive points and Laga connected with a triple to provide the visitors with their first lead of the contest (31-30).  Both teams exchanged baskets over the final three minutes as the Corsairs took a 35-34 advantage into the locker room.

Garrow recorded 10 points in the first six minutes of the second half to give the Warriors an eight-point lead (49-41).  Eastern Connecticut sealed the victory with seven unanswered points to balloon a six-point advantage into a 13-point lead with just two and a half minutes left on the clock.  The visitors were able to bridge the gap to seven points (77-70) with just 18 seconds remaining, but Garrow iced the contest with a pair of foul shots.

The Corsairs shot 40 percent (30-for-75) from the field, but were only able to connect on 23.8 percent (5-for-21) from downtown. The Warriors hit 45.6 percent (26-for-57) from the floor, including 52.0 percent in the second stanza.  Eastern Connecticut took advantage of its trips to the charity stripe, making 23-of-27 attempts from the foul line, compared to just 8-for-10 for the visitors.

UMass Dartmouth returns to action at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, when the Corsairs host Little East rival Rhode Island College (16-7, 10-2) at the Tripp Athletic Center.