NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-Junior guard Ryan Martin (Wayne, ME/Maranacook HS) hit a three-pointer with 1:18 left that put visiting Keene State ahead to stay, and the Owls held on to defeat the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team, 81-76, in the 2012-13 Little East Conference opener for both teams at the Tripp Athletic Center Friday evening.
Martin's shot allowed the Owls to regain the lead after junior guard Aaron West (Chicopee, MA/Chicopee HS/Northwood-FL) hit a pair of free throws to give the Corsairs their final lead of the game at 71-69 with 1:40 remaining.
After Martin's trey, KSC senior forward Eric Fazio (Hopewell Junction, NY/Our Lady of Lords HS) hit a jump shot and Martin made two more free throws before UMD junior guard John Genkos (Worcester, MA/Doherty HS) connected on a trey to cut the lead to 76-74 with 29 seconds to play. Corsair sophomore guard Mike Rotando (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ/Point Pleasant Beach HS/Bloomfield) hit a jump shot, but the Owls made five of six free throws down the stretch to preserve their victory.
Junior forward Eleazar Clayton (Boston, MA/East Boston HS/Monroe CC) led UMD with 16 points, sophomore center Alex Rodrigues (Fall River, MA/Durfee HS) added 15, Rotando had 14 and sophomore guard Jake Laga (Northampton, MA/Northampton HS) added 10. Fazio of the Owls led all scorers with 20 points, senior center Rashad Wright (Agawam, MA/South Kent HS) led KSC with 16 points, sophomore guard Tom Doyle (Wallingford, CT/Notre Dame HS) added 14 and Martin contributed 11.
"We executed our game plan, they were a little bigger but Alex Rodrigues and Elie Clayton did a nice job for us in the post," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "It's a young group of guys and they are still learning how to play together. Five games into the season and this is the most together we've played. It was a team effort and we worked hard, but came up short (Freshman forward) Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, MA/Fitchburg HS) and freshman guard Aven Jones (Beverly, MA/Beverly HS) both gave us some quality minutes off the bench and played hard."
UMass Dartmouth fell to 0-5 and 0-1 in the LEC with the defeat, while Keene State improved to 3-2 and 1-0 in the LEC with the victory. The Corsairs will return to action when they host Worcester State Tuesday evening. The Owls will host Plattsburgh State Tuesday evening.