Men's Basketball to Play DeSales in NCAA's Sweet 16

Men's Basketball to Play DeSales in NCAA's Sweet 16

March 11, 2009

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's men's basketball team will play DeSales University of Allentown, PA in their NCAA Division III Tournament sectional round opener at the Mayser Center at Franklin and Marshall University Friday evening. The Corsairs and Bulldogs will meet at 6 p.m; while the host Diplomats will play Salem State at 8 p.m. The championship game is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday evening, March 14th. The winner of the sectional advances to next weekend's NCAA Division III Final Four in Salem, VA.

With a 27-3 overall record, UMass Dartmouth has been as successful on the road as it has been at home this season, winning 12 games at the Tripp Athletic Center, 12 games on the road, and three times at neutral site. "We're excited to be playing at this time of the year," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "We started out with 412 teams playing; now it's down to 16, and that's pretty good."

DeSales is 24-5, and has won six games in a row, including wins at home against Wilkes and Manhattanville in the Freedom Conference playoffs, which they hosted, and a first round NCAA Tournament win against St. Joseph's of Long Island before they went on the road and ousted Ithaca, 77-71, last Saturday night. Darnell Bramwell leads the Bulldogs in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game, while Ed Lapinski averaged 13.6 points and 9.3 rebounds.

"DeSales has an outstanding two guard, a big, strong forward and a point guard who does a nice job," said Baptiste. "They are more of a slow, deliberate team that does a good job of executing their plays. They are very good at what they do."

The Corsairs will need a strong effort to move on. "We're going to have to be on top of our game," said Baptiste. "We are going to have to work real hard at half court defense and full court defense. We will have to do a good job of taking care of the ball, and making our shots."

The UMD starters include first team All-Conference point guard Reece Freeman (Sr. Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS) and first team All-LEC junior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS/UMass Lowell), as well as second team sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS), junior forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS) and junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA/Franklin HS), who joined Freeman on the LEC's All-Defensive Team. However, the Corsairs' bench has been a major factor in their success.

"We've got some quality players on the bench," said Baptiste. "(Freshman forward) Tom Henneberry (Lexington, MA/Lexington HS) has come off the bench and put some points on the board, (junior forward) V.J. (Divine, Brookline, MA/Brookline HS) comes in and he can be a stopped and can defend, (freshman guard) Alex Klepadlo (Bernardston, MA/Pioneer Valley Regional HS) has done a great job on defense and can also hit jump shots, and (junior guard) Tyler Turtoro (Shelton, CT/Shelton HS) has been playing a lot more minutes. We've gotten a pretty good contribution from guys coming off the bench."

This marks the fifth time the Corsairs have advanced to the Sweet 16. If they win twice this weekend, they will advance to the Final Four for the second time.