Anchormen Beat Hobart 62-59 in OT in First Round of NCAA Tournament

The Rhode Island College men’s basketball team defeated Hobart 62-59 in overtime in first-round action in the NCAA Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament before a packed crowd at the Murray Center on Saturday (March 2).

Sophomore All-Little East forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) registered 10 rebounds, seven points, four assists, five steals and two blocks in the game.

The Anchormen (26-3) advance to the second round of the playoffs next Saturday. They will face Morrisville State, which defeated Ramapo 86-78. The location of that game will be announced Monday.

Junior guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) had 13 points, five rebounds and three steals for RIC, while senior All-Little East guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) contributed 12 points. Junior guard Nyheem Sanders (Pawtucket, RI) chipped in with 11 points, five assists and two steals.

Hobart (21-7) junior forward Richie Bonney (Norwich, NY) posted a double-double with game-highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds. Sophomore guard Connor Rehbaum (Cheektowaga, NY) recorded 13 points and six boards, while senior guard Rezin Davis (Hughesville, PA) pitched in with 10 points and five boards. Senior guard Stefan Thompson (Syracuse, NY) handed out a game-high seven assists.

“This was a great character win by our guys,” said Head Coach Bob Walsh. “We were down 11 with eight minutes to play and we never stopped fighting. We struggled to put the ball in the hoop, but we kept our composure, played really tough and found a way to win.”

After falling behind 3-0 just 37 seconds into the game, Burton helped ignite an 11-0 run with a ferocious tomahawk dunk as the Anchormen climbed back for an 11-3 lead at 16:46.

Two layups by junior forward Bonney made it a four-point deficit for the visitors, 11-7, at 13:13.

A layup by Carter gave RIC a 17-10 lead with 8:19 left to play in the half, but Hobart responded with a 9-0 run to take a 19-17 lead with 6:05 left. Davis contributed a three-pointer and the go-ahead layup.

The Statesmen led 21-19 before the hosts rattled off six straight to hold a 25-21 lead at halftime. A big three-pointer from DeCiantis with 35 seconds left was the big blow.

RIC shot 32 percent (9-for-28) from the floor and just 15 percent (2-for-13) from downtown in the first half. The Statesmen shot 39 percent (9-for-23) from the field and made just 1-of-7 (14 percent) from downtown. Hobart turned the ball over 13 times and was out-rebounded by one, 17-16.

DeCiantis picked up where he left off, canning a three-pointer to give RIC a 28-23 lead at 18:57 of the second half. Hobart exploded for a 17-2 run to build a 41-30 lead with 9:40 left in the game. Bonney accounted for seven points, while Rehbaum canned two longballs.

Davis buried another three-pointer to give the Statesmen a 43-32 lead with 7:59 left to go. RIC cut its deficit to five, 43-38, after a pair of free throws by senior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) and two clutch layups by sophomore guard Alex Cruz (East Hartford, CT) at 6:28.

After Hobart junior guard Joe Gibbons (Lindenhurst, NY) converted a layup, Sanders nailed a huge three to make it a four-point, 45-41, deficit for the hosts. A Cruz tip-in off a DeCiantis miss made it a one-possession game, 45-43, at 4:15. RIC forced a turnover and Burton followed with a layup off a missed three by Carter to tie the game 45-45 at the 3:52 mark.

Bonney muscled his way in for a layup, was fouled, and cashed in the ensuing free throw to allow the visitors to regain the lead 48-45. After the Statesmen made one from the charity stripe, RIC cut into the lead as Sanders made a free throw, and Burton followed with a pair to trail by one 49-48, with just under two minutes left.

After the Anchormen missed a trey, Thompson made one of two from the line to make it a 50-48 game with 1:22 on the clock. RIC missed another three, but Burton stole the ball from Thompson at the top of the key and fed Sanders for the game-tying layup with 33 seconds left.

Hobart was called for an offensive foul, which gave the Anchormen the ball with 15 seconds left. RIC set up DeCiantis up for a three at the top of the key, but the shot rimmed out and Bonney corralled the rebound with 1.5 on the clock.

The Statesmen attempted a long baseball pass to set up the game-winning shot, but it sailed over everyone without being touched and out of bounds, giving the Anchormen another opportunity.

RIC was able to inbound the ball from under the Hobart basket. Carter found Burton wide open for a one-touch layup, but the potential game-winner rimmed out and the game went to overtime.

Carter got the Anchormen off to a good start with a three, but Rehbaum answered back with a trifecta of his own to tie it 53-53 in the first minute.

Carter answered with a layup, but once again, Hobart evened the game as senior forward Sean Peer (Colonie, NY) nailed two free throws.

DeCiantis canned a three to give the Anchormen a 58-55 lead and Cruz followed with a layup to put RIC in the driver’s seat with 2:53 left. A free throw by Burton gave the hosts a 61-55 lead with 1:55 left, but Rehbaum made a clutch bucket to pull the visitors within four.

After missing a pair of free throws, Gibbons pulled the Statesmen within two, 61-59, with 17 seconds left. After being fouled, DeCiantis made one free throw and Bonney was fouled with 1.5 seconds left before he could get a three off, but Hobart missed both attempts.

For the game, RIC shot 33 percent (21-for-64) from the field, 19 percent (6-for-31) from downtown and 64 percent (14-for-22) from the free throw line. Hobart shot 42 percent (23-for-55) from the floor, 32 percent (6-for-19) from downtown and 54 percent (7-for-13) from the line.

Hobart held the advantage in rebounding, 47-35, but turned the ball over 26 times.