BOSTON – The fourth and fifth ranked Little East Conference men's basketball teams faced off in a crucial late-season showdown this evening, as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was unable to overcome a slow start and intrastate rival University of Massachusetts Boston posted a 79-75 victory at the Clark Athletic Center. The Beacons swept the season series to move two games ahead of the Corsairs in the battle for home court advantage in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming Little East Conference Championship tournament.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 75, UMass Boston 79
Records: UMass Dartmouth 11-11, 4-7 LEC | UMass Boston 12-10, 6-5 LEC
How it Happened
UMass Dartmouth's offense was bolstered by 10-plus points from four of its starters as junior Arinze Obiora (Lagos Nigeria) paved the way, continuing his season-long outburst as he led the game with 22 points and 17 rebounds to put forth his 14th double-double on the year. Classmate Atakan Akcam (Ankara, Turkey) poured in a new season-high with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting with four assists. Guards Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.) and Brandon Williams Jr. (Dorchester, Mass.) rounded out the corps with 14 and 11 points respectively while also combining for nine assists.
UMass Boston was led by multiple players with 20-plus point performances with Freshmen guards Charles Mitchell (Boston, Mass.) and Michael Boyd (Malden, Mass.) reaching that criteria with 21 and 20 points respectively while knocking down eight from deep between the two of them. Senior Dan Powers (Westwood, Mass.) posted the game's only other double-double with his 14 points, 12 rebound effort while sophomore Dasan Cinelli (Boston, Mass.) pulled down 10 rebounds to help the Beacons narrowly control the glass.
The Beacons asserted themselves right off the opening tip, scoring 13 unanswered points to begin to contest and propel them to an 11-minute, 26-10 run. With 7:23 left in the initial half, UMass Dartmouth started to put the pieces together for its own momentum-building drive, starting when Ashworth knocked down a trey to kick off a 16-5 run, highlighted by a trio of shots from behind the arc for the Corsairs. After briefly going cold, UMass Boston scored the final six points of the half to boost the lead to 41-28 just before the game went into the intermission.
Williams Jr. looked to re-ignite the momentum for the Corsairs in the second-half, hitting a triple for the first make of the second half. But instead, the team's traded buckets as UMass Dartmouth edged the Beacons on a 19-18 exchange until the midway point of the half.
UMass Dartmouth kept chipping at the deficit, reducing it to just three points with 5:16 minutes left until the finale. In the last stretch of the game, Obiora and Akcam combined for eight points in attempts to sneak out the victory, but the Beacons showed their closing ability, outscoring the visitors 6-2 inside the final minute to escape with the 79-75 margin of victory.
Inside the Numbers
- The Corsairs outshot the Beacons for the night, going 30-for-63 from the field and 5-for-17 from long distance. UMass Boston finished 30-for-72 and 10-for-23 in those same categories.
- Both teams made the most of their opportunities from the charity stripe with the Corsairs knocking down 10-of-14 attempts, while the Beacons' converted 9-of-12 shots.
- UMass Boston outrebounded UMass Dartmouth by a 40-38 mark, but the Corsairs still controlled the paint, outscoring the Beacons 40-20.
- Despite the Corsairs cutting the lead to two-points in the second-half, the Beacons led wire-to-wire.
- With losses in the last three meetings, the Corsairs all-time record against the Beacons falls to 49-10, with the last UMass Dartmouth victory coming January 25, 2017 in a 101-74 decision.
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 3pm on Saturday, Feb. 10, when the Corsairs host No. 10 Eastern Connecticut State University at the Tripp Athletic Center. UMass Dartmouth will square off against its fourth nationally-ranked oppenent during the 2018 campaign.