Portelance Leads Dominant Performance in the Paint Past Western Connecticut

Portelance Leads Dominant Performance in the Paint Past Western Connecticut

DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Behind a 25-point, 13-rebound double-double from freshman Nick Portelance (Fairhaven, Mass.), the UMass Dartmouth men's basketball team rose to 5-5 in the Little East Conference on Saturday, holding on for an 85-75 win over Western Connecticut.

The contest marks the team-best eighth double-double for Portelance on the season, who led a dominant Corsair attack in the paint. UMass Dartmouth (12-9 overall) recorded 50 points to Western Connecticut's 38 down low on the contest, including 16 second-chance points.

Senior Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass.) led all scorers with 30 points and eight assists. Junior Jon Robinson (Chatham, Mass.) added 10 points including 2-3 from behind the arc.

The Colonials (13-8 overall, 6-4 LEC) were paced by freshman Jauch Green (Hartford, Conn.), who dropped 19 points while grabbing eight boards. Also scoring in double figures were senior Luis Bridtter (Stamford, Conn.), with 14 points and two blocks, and classmate Phil Starks (Hartford, Conn.) with 12 points.

The hosts seized control early, starting the contest on a 9-2 run featuring five points from Robinson. The  momentum would swing halfway through the first half, as Western Connecticut used back-to-back 3-pointers from freshman Aaron Samuel (Stratford, Conn.) and Starks to take its first lead at 13:12.

Bridtter and Samuel converted layups to extend the visitors' advantage to 21-12 four minutes later, which held until the closing minutes of the half. With 1:55 remaining, a traditional 3-point play from Portelance gave UMass Dartmouth its first lead in over 10 minutes. Rezendes gained an easy bucket seconds later to put the Corsairs up four, but Samuel hit two foul shots to give the Colonials a slim 39-37 deficit heading into the locker room.

Colonial Ryan Belote (Meriden, Conn.) hit a basket early in the second half to tie the score at 43, but a responding jumper from Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, Mass.) put the Corsairs back in the driver's seat for the rest of the game. Western Connecticut scored five straight points in two minutes to get within two at 13:22 for the smallest deficit for the remainder of the half.

UMass Dartmouth responded with their own 13-5 run to take control for good with 6:43 remaining, extending the lead to as much as 14 over the next four minutes. Despite Green's six points in the closing minute and a half, Rezendes secured five straight free throws to put the margin out of reach.

The Corsairs went 30-66 (45 percent) from the field on the night while reaching the foul line 32 times and converting 21 chances. Western Connecticut shot 43 percent (30-69) on the game, but were outrebounded 46-38.

The Corsairs host Rhode Island College next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., while Western Connecticut will welcome in-state rival and LEC leader Eastern Connecticut at the same time.