DARTMOUTH, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth junior Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.) established a new single-game point record (51) and Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) scored his 1,000th career point to lead the Corsairs to an 92-80 Little East Conference victory over Keene State College this afternoon in a NCAA Division III men's basketball game inside the Tripp Athletic Center.
UMass Dartmouth (13-12, 9-5 LEC) increased its conference record to 9-5, the most Little East wins since 2010, to earn the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Little East Conference Men's Basketball Championship tournament. The Corsairs will serve host to No. 6 UMass Boston (14-11) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 24.
Keene State (17-8, 8-6 LEC) secured the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament and will welcome No. 5 Western Connecticut (14-11) to Spaulding Gymnasium also at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.
Rezendes scored 33 of his 51 points in the second half to put an additional nine points between the previous record holder Bevin Ingram (42, Assumption, 1988-89). The junior guard was 18-for-32 from the field, 4-for-8 from long range, and 11-for-12 from the foul line. He also pulled in six boards and handed out six assists.
Laga drained a jumper in the paint with 3:06 remaining in the first half to become the 46th Corsair in men's basketball history to reach the coveted 1,000-point mark. He is the first player to eclipse the century mark since Brandon Stephens '11. The senior guard from Northampton, Mass. registered 11 points to raise his career scoring total to 1,008 points.
Senior John Genkos (Worcester, Mass.) also reached double figures in scoring with 14 points, including a 3-for-7 showing behind the three-point arc. Junior Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass.) pulled in 11 rebounds.
Senior Tom Doyle (Wallingford, Conn.) poured in 32 points, on 10-for-19 from the floor, to pace four Owls in double digits. Sophomore Matt Ozzella (Medway, Mass.) posted a double-double, consisting of 11 points and 17 rebounds, while freshman Dizel Wright (Springfield, Mass.) and sophomore Jeff Lunn (Nashua, N.H.) each recorded 10 points. Junior Nate Howard (Cheshire, Conn.) hauled in seven boards to help the visitors win the battle on the glass, 49-42.
Keene State raced out of the gates scoring the opening seven points and closed a 10-1 run with a triple from Doyle. However, UMass Dartmouth responded with a 15-2 surge to take its first lead of the contest. Rezendes keyed the surge with 10 points, while Genkos produced the remaining five.
The Owls utilized a 12-2 midway through the first half to take their largest advantage of the contest at 35-25. Doyle sparked the run with a traditional three-point play, while Wright capped the surge with a fast-break lay-up. The hosts' whittle their deficit to one, but a sophomore Jaquel Edwards (Manchester, Conn.) lay-up gave the visitors a 39-36 lead at the intermission.
Trailing 50-46 with 13:16 remaining in regulation, Rezendes knocked down a triple and sophomore Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) sank a jumper to regain the Corsairs' advantage. Keene State answered with four straight points from Doyle, but a Genkos triple and a Robinson lay-up gave the hosts a lead they would never relinquish at 56-55.
Rezendes poured in 18 consecutive UMass Dartmouth points to help the hosts extend their advantage to 11 points (85-74) with 1:44 left on the clock. The Corsairs never let their lead dip below nine points over the final minute of action. Following a Keene State technical foul, Rezendes sank both freebies to become the first player in program history to surpass the 50-point barrier.
The UMass Dartmouth men's basketball program honored its four seniors—Josh Castillo (Lynn, Mass.), Alex Rodrigues (Fall River, Mass.), Genkos and Laga)—prior to the start of their final home, regular-season contest.
For the complete 2015 Little East Conference Men's Basketball Championship bracket, please click here.