March 9, 2007


2007 NCAA Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament
Sectional Round Game

Amherst, MA






Keene State (25-6)

Rhode Island College (27-3)






Stanko’s Free Throws Edges Keene State, 75-73

            AMHERST, MA—The Rhode Island College men’s basketball team edged Little East Conference rival Keene State College, 75-73, this evening to advance to the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball National Quarterfinals for the first time in the program’s history. Senior swingman Brian Stanko (Swansea, MA) hit a pair of free throws with just four seconds remaining in regulation to provide the decisive margin.


Rhode Island College advances to the Elite Eight and will face host Amherst College, which defeated Stevens Institute of Technology, on Saturday, Mar. 10 at 7 p.m.


Rhode Island College sophomore forward Kaseem Johnson (New Haven, CT) laid in a putback with just over a minute left to put RIC on top by one, 73-72. “I just tried to go up strong,” Johnson said about his lead-changing shot. “I ended up missing it, but my guy just stood there. I went back up with it for the layup.” Keene State junior guard David Sontag (Mount Vernon, NH) missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession. Stanko grabbed the rebound and was fouled, which set up the late-game heroics.


Sontag then brought the ball up the floor and was fouled at half-court by Rhode Island College senior guard Kinsey Durgin (Greenwood, ME). Sontag hit the first free throw and Owls’ Head Coach Rob Colbert called a timeout. Sontag missed the next free throw on purpose and Anchorman senior forward Anthony Pierlioni (Plainville, CT) grabbed the rebound to seal the win.


“I thought it was an unbelievable college basketball game,” Rhode Island College Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Walsh. “I wouldn’t have expected anything less. Keene State is a great team. I have so much respect for them. It was competition at a high level and a great atmosphere. I always tell our guys that the tougher team always wins. We were the tougher team, at least on one play. We kept our poise and we showed a lot of heart and toughness and that is what this team is all about.”


Rhode Island College was led offensively by sophomore guard Tirrell Hill (Bronx, NY) and Durgin, who scored 16 and 13 points respectively. Stanko chipped in with eight points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Bobby Bailey (Fall River, MA) and senior guard Kamari Williams (Springfield, MA) each recorded nine points.


Keene State was led by junior forward Travon Little (Danbury, CT) with a game-high 23 points, while sophomore forward Tyler Kathan (Ludlow, VT) posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.


In a nip-and-tuck affair, neither team held an advantage of more than five points, while the lead changed hands eight times and was tied on four occasions in the first fame. Rhode Island College jumped out to an early 7-4 advantage on a Pierlioni jumper, but Keene State responded with a mini, 9-4, surge fueled by Sontag’s seven points. Little and Sontag kept the Owls out in front for the majority of the first half with 11 points each.


The Anchormen regained their advantage, 31-30, on a jumper by sophomore forward Cameron Stewart (Newport, RI) with just four minutes remaining in the opening half. Both teams traded baskets on their ensuing possessions, but Hill netted five of his 13 first-half points down the stretch to give RIC its largest advantage, 40-35, with just under a minute remaining on the clock. The Anchormen headed into the intermission leading 40-38.   


Rhode Island College withstood a KSC, 12-2, run to start the second half. Pierlioni quelled the surge for a few seconds before the Owls connected on consecutive three-pointers by Little and Kathan to take a 50-42 advantage and force a Rhode Island College timeout.  


The Anchormen found their shooting touch coming out of the timeout, scoring the next eight points, including a pair of trifectas, to forge a 50-all tie. Stewart capped the run with a triple from the left corner of the arc.


Keene State responded with six straight points, but Bailey answered with a pair of three-pointers to whittle the deficit to three points. Rhode Island College to cut its deficit to one on three occasions, finally breaking through on Johnson’s putback.