Corsairs Fall To Anchormen In Little East Conference Semifinals

Corsairs Fall To Anchormen In Little East Conference Semifinals

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth junior Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.) and senior Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass.) combined for 37 points, but Rhode Island College used a 13-0 run in the early stages of the second half to break open a tied contest en route to a 75-63 victory in the semifinals of the 2015 Little East Conference Men's Basketball Championship tournament.

The second-seeded Anchormen (20-7) will square off against fourth-seeded Keene State College (19-8) in the championship game tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m.  The Owls upset top-seeded Eastern Connecticut in the first semifinal.  The Corsairs conclude their season with an overall record of 14-13.

Rezendes paced the UMass Dartmouth offensive attack with 20 points, on 7-for-20 from the field, while pulling in five rebounds and handing out three assists.  Laga poured in 17 points, on 6-for-13 from the floor, hauled in seven rebounds, and dished out five assists to complete the Corsairs' contingent in double figures in scoring.  Senior Josh Castillo (Lynn, Mass.) nearly reached double digits with nine points.

Senior forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, N.Y.) posted a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Anchormen. He scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half, including 10-for-12 from the foul line. Classmate Eric Alleyne (Watertown, Mass.) registed a game-high 21 points, including nine of the 13 during the decisive second-half run.  Freshman Roosevelt Shider (Merriden, Conn.) recorded 15 points, while senior Victor Smith (Providence, R.I.) tallied 10 points.  Rhode Island College held a 43-36 advantage on the glass.

Facing its largest first half deficit, UMass Dartmouth used a 9-2 spurt to forge a 21-all tie with less than five minutes remaining in the stanza.  Castillo bookened the run with a pair of three-pointers, while Laga converted three attempts from the foul line after being fouled behind the three-point arc.  Rhode Island College regained its advantage with a lay-up, but Rezendes sent both teams into the intermission tied at 23 with a runner in the paint.

The back-and-forth affair continued after the break with both teams alternating baskets, but Alleyne sparked the decisive 13-0 run with consecutive three-pointers followed by a fast break lay-up.  Burton gave the Anchormen their first double-digit lead with a lay-up, while Shider followed suit with a bunny of his own.  Alleyne capped the surge by making the front-end of his two attempts from the charity stripe to give Rhode Island College a 40-27 advantage.

Freshman Cody Borges (Dartmouth, Mass.) drained his only triple of the night and Castillo converted a traditional three-point play to help the Corsairs whittle their disadvantage to 46-38 with 10:28 remaining in regulation. UMass Dartmouth would cut its deficit to eight points three more times over the next two and a half minutes, but Rhode Island College always provided the answer.

The Anchormen responded with an 8-0 surge to take their largest advantage of the contest (16 pts, 60-44).  Shider keyed the run with four points, including capping the run with a pair of makes from the foul line. Rhode Island College, the fifth-ranked Little East Conference team in free throw shooting, converted 12 consecutive free throws over the next three minutes to help the Anchormen never let their lead dip below nine points.

UMass Dartmouth shot 37.1 percent (23-for-62) from the field, including 31.8 percent (7-for-22) from downtown.  The Corsairs struggled from the foul line, making just 66.7 percent (10-for-15) from the stripe. 

Rhode Island College shot 41.0 percent (25-for-61) from the floor, including 50 percent (15-for-30) in the second half.  The Anchormen also struggled from long range (30.8 percent, 4-for-13), but sank 75 percent (21-for-28) of their attempts from the charity stripe.  Rhode Island College also turned 14 UMass Dartmouth turnovers into 22 points.