Obiora Powers Men's Basketball Past Clark In Lafrance Tournament Opener

Obiora Powers Men's Basketball Past Clark In Lafrance Tournament Opener

DARTMOUTH, Mass.  --  Senior Arinze Obiora (Hyde Park, Mass.) scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead UMass Dartmouth to an 81-64 victory over Clark in first round play of the 21st Annual Lafrance Hospitality Tournament Friday evening at the Tripp Athletic Center.

The host Corsairs will take on Mitchell in Saturday’s championship game that begins at 2:00 pm, as the Mariners advanced to the title contest with a 91-82 opening round victory over Lehman.  Clark and Lehman will meet in the third place game on Saturday at Noon.

UMass Dartmouth (1-2) raced out to a six-point (14-8) edge just 6:50 into the contest, and after the visiting Cougars (1-2) closed back to within one (25-24) with just over six minutes remaining in the first half, UMass Dartmouth scored 11 of the final 14 points of the frame to build a 36-27 advantage at the break on the strength of seven points off the bench from freshman Adam Seablom (Lakeville, Mass.). 

After an opening three-pointer by sophomore Charles Stevens (Bronx, N.Y.) enabled Clark to creep back to within six on its first possession after intermission, the Corsairs used a 15-4 over a five-plus minute stretch that was fueled by seven points from Obiora to take its largest lead of the night at 51-34 with just over 14 minutes remaining.  The Cougars got back to within eight (63-55) on sophomore Tyler Davern’s (Webster, Mass.) triple with 7:44 to play, but six quick points from senior Atakan Akcam (Ankara, Turkey) in a just over a minute helped restore the hosts’ double-digit edge that expanded to as much as 18 points in closing three minutes of action.

Obiora connected on 11 of his 21 attempts from the field in the triumph for UMass Dartmouth, which received 14 points, five assists and four boards from sophomore Jake Ashworth (Fairhaven, Mass.).  Akcam just missed a double-double effort with 10 points, nine caroms, five assists and three steals for the Corsairs, who received 10 points and four assists from freshman Marcus Azor (Brockton, Mass.) and a game-high 13 rebounds from junior Marquis Jones (Randolph, Mass.).  The hosts shot 53 percent (37-70) from the field overall and held a 48-33 rebounding advantage for the contest while scoring 21 points off of 17 turnovers.

Davern netted a game-high 25 points, including four three-pointers, in the setback for Clark, which received 10 points and five rebounds from junior Brandan Kittredge (Clinton, Mass.) along with nine points, three assists and three steals from sophomore Biko Gayman (Fort Pierce, Fla.).  The Cougars shot 37 percent (23-63) from the floor and canned six treys in the setback, as UMass Dartmouth held a 58-26 scoring edge in the paint as well as a 10-point advantage (16-6) in fast break points.

In the opening outing, senior Steffen Brunson (West Haven, Conn.) led four players in double figures with 24 points (22 in the first half), eight assists, four rebounds and three steals for Mitchell in its season-opener.  The Mariners built a pair of seven point first half leads only to see Lehman (0-2) storm back to take a three-point edge (44-41) on junior Raheim Grant’s (Harlem, N.Y.) lay-in with 1:40 remaining in the first half, but Brunson’s three-point in the closing seconds gave Mitchell a 46-44 edge at the break.

The teams were separated by no more than four points in the opening 9:36 after intermission before the Mariners used an 11-3 run over a 3:28 stretch to grab its largest advantage of the day (76-64) on sophomore Landon Peabody’s (Waterford, Conn.) jumper with 7:56 remaining in the contest.  The Lightning responded with a 13-4 run over the next four-plus minutes to close back to within a bucket (82-80) on a pair of free throws by freshman Will Feldman (Bronx, N.Y.) with 3:23 to go, but lay-ins from senior Domenico Santiago (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and junior Hasani Williams (Miramar, Fla.) that were followed by free throws from Peabody and sophomore Connel Henderson (Old Saybrook, Conn.) iced Mitchell’s triumph.

Santiago finished with a double-double effort of 19 points (on 8-10 shooting from the floor) and 13 rebounds for the Mariners, who also received a double-double performance of 17 points and 12 boards from Williams.  Peabody added 14 points for the winners, who shot an even 50 percent (36-72) from the field and connected for eight three-pointers on the day.

Sophomore Miguel Haboosh (Montevideo, Uruguay) matched Brunson’s scoring output with 24 points, nine rebounds, four steals and a pair of assists to lead four players in double figures for Lehman.  Sophomore Isaiah Geathers (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added a double-double effort of 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Lightning, who received 12 points from junior Tommy Batista (Brooklyn, N.Y.) along with 10 points and four caroms from Grant.  Lehman shot 44 percent from the floor (32-72) and canned 11 from behind the arc for the contest.

(Photo Credit:  Rainier Almonte '19)