Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams Advance in First Round of Little East Conference

The Anchormen and Anchorwomen each defeated their opponents during the first round of the 2013 Little East Conference Basketball Tournament. Both advance to the semifinals Friday (Feb. 22).

RIC's top-seeded men's basketball team knocked off the eighth-seeded UMass Dartmouth Corsairs, 62-58, at The Murray Center on Tuesday (Feb. 19).

The Anchorwomen, who were seeded fifth, traveled to Connecticut, where they toppled  fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut Warriors by a score of 66-54.

In their win, the Anchormen (23-3) advance to face fourth-seeded Southern Maine in the semifinals at Rhode Island College on Friday at 6 p.m. This marks the fifth time in the last seven years that RIC has hosted the LEC Tournament.

The Anchorwomen (16-10) will travel to play top-seed Southern Maine in the semifinals on the same evening at 5:30 p.m.

Game Recaps

The Anchorman earned a hard-fought victory in their third game of the season against the scrappy Corsairs (5-21). 

“We weren’t really ourselves tonight, but we found a way to win,” said Head Coach Bob Walsh. “I’m proud of the way we stayed mentally tough despite playing poorly. This time of year the most important thing is the result. We’re hosting the tournament for the fifth time in seven years and our guys should feel great about that.”

The Anchormen dominated the glass on Tuesday, outrebounding UMass Dartmouth 50-38, and hauling in 24 offensive rebounds as a team.

Leading in action was sophomore forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY), who posted a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds and a game-high four steals. Burton was one of four Anchormen to finish in double-figures.

Senior guard Ethan Gaye (Providence, RI) recorded 11 points and seven rebounds, while classmate guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) registered 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) chipped in with 10 points and seven boards, while freshman forward Ryan Lawton (West Warwick, RI) pitched in with five steals and five rebounds in a career-high 18 minutes of action.

Freshman forward Wale Abraham (Lynn, MA) led UMass Dartmouth with 12 points and six blocks, while sophomore guard Jake Laga (Northampton, MA) tallied a game-high 14 points to go along with six rebounds in the loss. Junior forward Elezar Clayton (Boston, MA) finished with seven points and nine rebounds, while junior guard John Genkos (Worcester, MA) and freshman forward Abi Akanni (Fitchburg, MA) each contributed with eight points.

The Anchormen jumped out to an early, 9-3, lead over the first 2:34 of the game as DeCiantis paced the attack with five points. UMass Dartmouth came back to climb within three, 13-10, at 14:20 as Laga drained a trifecta.

Moments later, Clayton made a layup and Genkos sank a three to tie the contest, 15-15, with 12:33 left. The lead was tied four more times until Carter made a layup to make it, 27-25, with 2:13 left. Gaye followed with four more points as the hosts closed out the first 20 minutes holding a six-point, 33-27, advantage.

After the hosts stormed out of the break with back-to-back buckets to take a quick 10-point lead, the Corsairs bounced back to cut the deficit to five with 11:48 to play, capped off by three straight points from Laga. However, the Anchormen soon responded to once again extend their lead to 10 following a three-pointer from Carter with 9:26 remaining in the frame. Yet, Laga drained another trey moments later to trim the deficit to five, making it, 53-48, with 7:48 on the clock.

After back-to-back RIC baskets gave the hosts a nine-point advantage, UMass Dartmouth rallied to cut the margin to four thanks to a layup from Akanni that made it, 58,54, with just 3:10 to play.

Sparked by a relentless defensive effort down low from the Corsairs, the Anchormen missed six straight shots in the paint on a trio of offensive possessions over the next two minutes before Gaye gathered an offensive rebound with 1:07 to play and finally converted on a layup opportunity to give RIC a 60-54 lead. Trailing by six, the Corsairs knocked down two of four free throw attempts in the final minute to cut the deficit to four, but failed to get any closer.

RIC shot 34 percent (25-for-73) from the floor, 23 percent from beyond the arc (3-for-13) and 56 percent (9-for-16) from the free throw line. UMass Dartmouth shot 38 percent (20-for-53) from the floor, 36 percent (5-for-14) from downtown and 65 percent (13-for-20) from the free throw line.

The Anchormen corralled 13 steals as a team and forced the Corsairs into 18 turnovers, compared to just 15 turnovers of their own.

For the Anchorwomen, senior guard Ashley O’Dell (Lincoln, RI) scored a game-high 21 points as the fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut Warriors (10-16) were defeated at home, 66-54.

O’Dell was nearly perfect from the field, making 7-of-8 from the floor, and did not miss (5-for-5) from three-point land. Senior forward Courtney Burns (Rockland, MA) scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists. Junior forward Cara Paladino (Arlington, MA) chipped in with 12 points, while freshman forward Vandell Andrade (Providence, RI) hauled down a team-high nine rebounds.

Eastern Connecticut freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) had 16 points and 13 rebounds, while sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield, CT) posted a double-double of her own with 16 points and 14 boards. Freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) contributed 10 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic, CT) posted 10 points, four rebounds and five assists.

The game was close for the first six minutes as the score was deadlocked, 8-8, at 13:45. The Anchorwomen rattled off eight straight over the next 1:36 lead, 16-8, at 12:09. Two trifectas by O’Dell and Burns’ jumper did the damage.

The Warriors saw their deficit increase to 19 points with 6:47 left to play as RIC junior guard Stephanie Prusko (Lincoln, RI) canned a three. RIC’s advantage got as high as 20 points and the visitors went into halftime holding a commanding 41-25 lead.

The hosts got within 14 points, 45-31, on two McCourt free throws at 15:48, and later climbed within 12, 53-41, on a Leonard layup with 11:07 remaining. Five quick points by O’Dell, on a three and a layup, put the game out of reach, 58-41, and ECSU would get not closer than 11 points for the remainder of the contest.

RIC shot 43 percent (23-for-53) from the floor, 64 percent (7-for-11) from downtown and 72 percent (13-for-18) from the free throw line. ECSU shot 36 percent (21-for-59) from the field, went 0-for-1 from beyond the arc and 60 percent (12-for-20) from the charity stripe.

The Warriors outrebounded the Anchorwomen, 41-32. RIC had 12 turnovers, while the hosts made 13 miscues.