FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

 

February 28, 2009

 

 

 

UMASS DARTMOUTH CAPTURES LITTLE EAST TOURNAMENT TITLE
Macchi Named Most Outstanding Player as UMD Downs
Top-Seeded Rhode Island College, 62-53

 

Providence, RI—Second-seeded UMass Dartmouth upset top-seeded Rhode Island College, 62-53, in the Championship Game of the 2009 Little East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at The Murray Center.

 

 

 

The Corsairs (25-3) win their 11th LEC tourney title and avenge a season sweep by Regular Season Champions. The loss snaps a program-record 14-game winning streak by the Anchormen (23-5).

 

 

 

UMass Dartmouth receives and automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament, while Rhode Island College will have to hope for an at-large bid. Both teams will find out where and when their next game is on Monday morning.

 

 

 

Junior guard Jeff Macchi (Franklin, MA) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament. He scored 12 points, grabbed five boards, dished out seven assists and swiped seven steals in the title contest. Macchi had nine points, eight boards and four steals in the Corsairs’, 76-73, semifinal win over sixth-seeded Western Connecticut last night. He registered 16 points, five rebounds and four steals in a 79-63 win over UMass Boston in the quarterfinals on Feb. 24.

 

 

 

“Their halfcourt defense did a good job of keeping us off balance and we didn’t take care of the ball,” RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said. “They never let us get settled into our offense.”

 

 

 

 

 

 RIC Senior Guard Bobby Bailey (photo courtesy of Autumnstudios.com)

 

 

 

The visitors took a 4-0 lead in the opening minutes as junior guard V.J. Divine (Brookline, MA) and classmate forward Matt Walker (Brockton, MA) both made shots. Rhode Island College answered with buckets by senior center Wil Lyons (Warwick, RI) and sophomore guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) to tie the contest at 16:27.

 

 

 

The hosts went on an 8-0 run to take a 14-6 lead at 11:35, paced by freshman forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) and senior guard Tirrell Hill (Bronx, NY), who scored four points apiece.

 

 

 

UMD came back on an 6-0 run to pull within two of RIC, 14-12, at 8:49 led by baskets from sophomore forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA), junior frontcourt mate Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA) and Macchi.

 

 

 

Two Gray free throws put RIC up by four points, 16-12, at 7:28, only to have the visitors go on a 10-2 run to go up by four, 22-18 with 4:07 left in the first half. Walker contributed two layups to the offensive surge.

 

 

 

Gray canned a jumper and Choice finished a layup to knot the contest, 22-all with 1:13. UMass Dartmouth senior guard Reece Freeman (Cambridge, MA) broke the tie with a wide-open drive to the rack, then, after a RIC senior guard Bobby Bailey (Fall River, MA) layup, drove strong to the rack, sank a layup, was fouled and went to the line for a free throw to send UMD into the half up by three points, 27-24.

 

 

 

The first 20 minutes were fiercely contested with neither team able to hit from downtown. UMass Dartmouth forced 16 Anchormen turnovers and shot 32 percent (12-for-38) from the field. RIC countered with a 45 percent (9-for-20) effort from the floor.

 

 

 

The Corsairs came out on fire in the second half, erupting for a 16-6 surge, paced by five Shelton points and a Stephens triple, to take a 12-point lead, 41-29, at 16:25. The visitors extended their advantage to a game-high 15 points, 54-39, with 8:27 left in the contest on a Macchi jumper.

 

 

 

RIC put the clamps on UMD defensively, holding the visitors scoreless over the next 6:52 and scoring 12 straight, highlighted by a Gray catch-and-shoot trey as the shot clock was about to expire.

 

 

 

With 1:35 left in the game and UMass Dartmouth up by three, 54-51, Macchi drove to the hoop and fed Walker, who ran the baseline for a layup to make it a two-possession game. Lyons was fouled on the ensuing play and made two from the charity stripe.

 

 

 

With 43 seconds left, Macchi once again drove and fed a cutting Walker for a layup. RIC was whistled for a foul on the inbounds, giving the Corsairs the ball back. Walker was fouled and made both free throws with 31 ticks left on the clock.

 

 

 

“I was telling Matt during the last timeout not to hang out by the three-point line and to make a back door cut,” Macchi said. “He did that and got two wide open layups.”

 

 

 

Rhode Island College turned the ball over for the 24th and final time with 21 seconds left, leading to a junior guard Tyler Turtoro (Shelton, CT) layup, which ended the game.

 

 

 

Walker finished with a game-high 16 points, while Shelton contributed 11 points and seven rebounds.

 

 

 

Gray led RIC with 12 points, while Bailey posted a game-high 13 boards to go along with nine points. Choice added 11 points.

 

 

 

UMD shot 38 percent (26-for-68) from the field, while RIC shot 39 percent (20-for-52).

 

 

 

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