DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Junior Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.) poured in 34 points to power the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to a 92-81 victory over visiting Western Connecticut State University this evening in a NCAA Division III men's basketball game inside the Tripp Athletic Center.
The Corsairs (6-6) remained unbeaten in the Little East Conference at 2-0, while the Colonials (8-3) suffered their first conference setback to slip to 1-1.
UMass Dartmouth shot 52.3 percent (34-for-65) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-for-19) from behind the three-point arc and 78.9 percent (15-for-19) from the foul line. Rezendes scored 20 of his 34 points in the first stanza to lead five players in double figures in scoring. Junior Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while senior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) registered 15 points and a game-high six assists. Senior Josh Castillo (Lynn, Mass.) and Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) combined for 21 points off the bench.
Western Connecticut used a balanced offensive attack, as all 11 participants cracked the scoring column. Junior Luis Bridtter (Stamford, Conn.) scored a game-high 18 points, on 8-for-13 from the field, and a team-high seven boards. Sophomore Bobby Bynum (New Haven, Conn.) produced 14 points, while senior Jimmy Louissaint (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added 11 points.
In a back-and-forth first half that featured six ties and six lead changes, Western Connecticut held the largest advantage of the frame, 25-17, with seven minutes, 12 seconds left on the clock.
The Corsairs responded with a 12-2 run over the next 3:38 to forge a 29-all tie. Rezendes fueled the surge with five points, while Laga added four, including the final basket.
Neither team was able to create any distance down the stretch, but senior John Genkos (Worcester, Mass.) hauled in a full-length pass from Rezendes to give the hosts the 37-36 lead entering the locker room.
The Colonials charged out of the gates, utilizing a quick 7-0 run in just 46 seconds to take a 43-37 lead. Bridtter ignited the surge with five consecutive points, then Bynum capped the run with a lay-up to force UMass Dartmouth to call timeout.
Trailing 49-43, the Corsairs quickly made up the difference in just 42 seconds with a 6-0 surge, capped by an Abraham dunk. On the ensuing possession, Abraham sent home another dunk to regain the advantage. After each team traded three-pointers, senior Claudy Casseus (Uniondale, N.Y.) tied the contest for the eighth and final time with a jumper.
The Corsairs controlled the subsequent five and a half minutes, turning a tied contest into a double-digit lead with a 17-6 run. Freshman Cody Borges (Dartmouth, Mass.) sparked the surge with a triple, while Rezendes made three consecutive field goals. Castillo capped the run with a lay-up to give the hosts a 71-60 lead with 8:33 remaining in regulation.
UMass Dartmouth would never let its lead dip below nine points for the remainder of regulation.
The Corsairs dominated the glass, holding a 46-32 advantage.
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 3 p.m. on Jan. 10, when the Corsairs travel to Little East Conference rival Southern Maine.