Feb. 14, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team used a 15-0 run early in the first half to erase an eight-point deficit and take a 23-16 lead and went on to defeat visiting Eastern Connecticut State, 100-88, in the second game of a Little East Conference doubleheader at the Tripp Athletic Center Saturday afternoon.
The Corsairs, who entered the game ranked 15th nationally in the d3hoops.com poll and second in the New England regional poll, fell behind early, as three-pointers by sophomore guard Courtney Simmons (Middletown, CT/Xavier HS), freshman guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY/Irvington HS) and junior guard Edwin Ortiz (Hartford, CT/East Catholic HS_ helped stake the Warriors to a 14-6 advantage three and a half minutes into the game.
UMass Dartmouth fought back. A jump shot by junior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell) and a three-pointer by junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS) helped them cut the lead to 14-11. After senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridge, MA/Rindge & Latin HS) hit a pair of free throws, sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS) scored eight consecutive points on a jumper and a pair of treys to make it 21-14 with 13:21 remaining. A jumper by freshman forward Jamie Kohn (Columbia, CT/Coventry HS) and a free throw by freshman center Jeremy Thompson (Berlin, CT/Berlin HS) allowed ECSU to tie the game at 23-23 midway through the first half. But Shelton sandwiched a pair of a pair of jump shots around a three-pointer by freshman guard Alex Klepadlo (Bernardston, MA/Pioneer Valley Prep), and the Corsairs built a 30-23 advantage and never trailed again.
A 9-0 Corsair run, which included a pair of layups by junior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS), a three-pointer by Macchi and a driving layup by Freeman, allowed UMass Dartmouth to claim a 52-38 lead at intermission. The Warriors outscored UMD in the second half, 50-48, but Walker's jump shot in the final minute capped the scoring for the Corsairs, who scored 100 points for the first time this season.
"Our team played well overall," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We took advantage of a couple of mismatches after we trailed early in the first half, then we made a run, took the lead, and pretty much were in control throughout the rest of the game. I'm glad we bounced back and got the win, now it's time to move on."
Stephens led all scorers with 27 points, Freeman added 18, and Walker, Shelton and Macchi contributed 15 points apiece. Ortiz led Eastern Connecticut with 17 points, Kohn had 16 and Thompson scored 11. Walker had nine rebounds and Freeman for the Corsairs, but sophomore forward Bill Roveto had 10 for ECSU as the Warriors out rebounded UMass Dartmouth, 36-35. Freeman also had nine assists, while Simmons had 13 for ECSU.
"Brandon Stephens shot the ball well for us, which he hasn't always been doing," said Baptiste. "Brandon gives us so much more than just shooting; I don't want him to get discouraged. Today, it was good to see him shoot the ball with confidence."
The Corsairs improved to 20-3 and 10-2 in the Little East Conference with the victory, while the Warriors fell to 11-12 and 5-7 with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will return to action when they host UMass Boston in the second game of a Little East Conference doubleheader Tuesday evening. ECSU will host Keene State Tuesday.