DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Senior Arinze Obiora (Hyde Park, Mass.) scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead UMass Dartmouth to a wild 82-79 victory over Southern Maine in the Little East Conference men’s basketball opener for both teams Wednesday evening at the Tripp Athletic Center.
In a game delayed nearly a half hour by a fire alarm in the building, the visiting Huskies (2-3, 0-1 LEC) raced out to a 12-point advantage (18-6) in the opening 4:57 of the contest, but the host Corsairs (4-2, 0-0 LEC) responded by scoring 18 of the game’s next 20 points in less than six minutes to grab a 24-20 edge on freshman Adam Seablom’s (Lakeville, Mass.) jumper. Southern Maine forged a 28-28 tie with just over six minutes remaining in the first frame, and the visitors closed the first half on a 9-5 run keyed by eight combined points from senior Christian McCue (Hampden, Maine) and junior Jayvon Pitts-Young (Portland, Maine) to take a 37-36 lead at the break.
UMass Dartmouth evened matters at 43-43 early after intermission before using six unanswered points to grab a 49-43 edge on senior Atakan Akcam’s (Ankara, Turkey) lay-in right before the alarm delay, and after the teams settled back in, McCue’s trey capped a 12-4 Huskies’ run that gave the visitors a 55-53 advantage with 12:21 to play. The lead changed four more times before eight unanswered free throws from Obiora, Akcam and sophomore Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.) enabled the hosts’ to take a seven point cushion (71-64), but a lay-in by Pitts-Young with 4:10 to play capped a 7-0 Southern Maine run that forged the 10th and final tie of the night.
An Obiora three-pointer with 1:25 remaining staked the Corsairs’ to a four-point advantage (80-76), and two Akcam free throws 18 seconds later provided some insurance for UMass Dartmouth, as free throws by McCue and Pitts-Young in the final minute sliced the visitors’ deficit to three. The Huskies forced a turnover in the waning seconds of action, as Southern Maine had a pair of chances to force overtime from the three-point line but missed on both attempts as time expired.
Akcam added 16 points and four rebounds in the win for UMass Dartmouth, which received 11 points off the bench from freshman Sean Leahy (Hanson, Mass.) along with six points and eight caroms from junior Marquis Jones (Randolph, Mass.). Seablom, Ashworth and freshman Marcus Azor (Brockton, Mass.) combined for 16 points for the Corsairs, who shot 41 percent (28-68) from the field and converted 19 turnovers into 23 points on the evening. The hosts held a 20-13 scoring edge at the foul line and outscored the Huskies by a 22-2 margin from the bench.
Pitts-Young blistered the nets for a game-high 36 points on a 13-18 shooting effort from the field in the setback for Southern Maine, which received 18 points from McCue along with a double-double effort of 11 points, 10 boards and five blocks from senior Sean Jany (Westbrook, Maine). Senior Grayson Waterman (Berwick, Maine) added seven points, five rebounds and five assists for the Huskies, who shot 56 percent (29-52) from the floor and canned eight from behind the arc (five by McCue) on the night.
UMass Dartmouth hosts Plymouth State in a Little East Conference clash on Saturday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center that tips-off at 3:00 pm, while Southern Maine heads to Castleton, Vt. on Saturday afternoon to square off with Castleton in a Little East outing that also tips-off at 3:00 pm.
(Photo Credit: Rainier Almonte '19)