January 23, 2010






Providence, RIóSophomore forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) scored a team-high 14 points and junior frontcourt mate Darius Debnam (Dorchester, MA) hit the game-winning free throw with 2.9 seconds left in regulation to lead the Rhode Island College menís basketball team to a 72-71 Little East Conference win over Eastern Connecticut on Saturday afternoon at The Murray Center.






 Sophomore forward Mason Choice




With the score tied, 71-71, and RIC holding for the last shot, Choice drove to the hoop, but was cut off by two Eastern Connecticut defenders. He found Debnam all alone on the block with a deft pass. Debnam was fouled, and after missing his first foul shot attempt, connected on the second to help RIC (12-5, 6-1 LEC) take sole possession of the first place in the LEC.




ECSU (13-4, 5-2) sophomore guard Nick Nedwickís (Irvington, NY) half-court attempt on the ensuing inbounds pass fell short at the buzzer. The Warriors, who see a five-game win streak come to an end in the loss, drop to second in the league.




The Anchormen have won three straight games and seven of their last eight. RIC has won 11 of its last 12 meetings with Eastern and sweeps the season series.




 "We found a way to win tonight," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said afterwards. "We made just enough plays defensively and to be in first place at this point is great."




The Warriors opened the game with six consecutive points to lead, 6-0, just 1:48 into the contest. RIC countered with a 10-4 run to tie the game, 10-10, at 15:15 on a freshman guard Derek Libbey (Lincoln, ME) layup. After ECSU sophomore guard Jamie Kohn (Columbia, CT) drained a jumper, two Choice free throws tied the game once again, 12-12, at 14:20.




It was scoreless over the next 2:20 until senior guard Jake Grimes (Providence, RI) broke the deadlock with a steal and layup at the 12:00 mark. ECSU senior Edwin Ortiz (Hartford, CT) drained a three-pointer to give the visitors a 15-14 lead at 11:11 and the advantage went back and forth over the next 5:25.




Sophomore forward Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) powered in a layup to put the hosts up by three, 30-27, at 5:36, which began an 11-0 run for the Anchormen. Freshman guard Tahrike Carterís (Brooklyn, CT) layup at 3:10 put RIC up, 40-29. The Warriors trimmed the deficit down to eight points, 42-34, at the break.






 Sophomore forward Mike Akinrola




In the second half, a Debnam layup gave RIC a 12-point, 46-34, at 17:51. The Warriors, on three occasions over the next six minutes, trimmed the Anchormenís advantage down to six points, only to see RIC answer back. Akinrola cashed in a jumper to put the hosts up, 60-51, with 9:21 remaining.


The Warriors did not give up, going on a 12-2 run to take the lead, 63-62, with 6:14 left on a Nedwick jumper. With a minute left, RIC held a 70-66 lead. Nedwick drained a three-pointer to get within one, but Grimes was fouled and made one from the line to put the hosts up, 71-69.


Freshman guard Mike Garrow (Terryville, CT) had a putback off a Nedwick miss with 24 seconds left to tie the game, which set up Debnamís game-winning free throw.


Junior guard Nick Manson (Newport, RI) continued his impressive play of late, finishing with 13 points, which included three treys, to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Akinrola, who was playing just his third game of the year, finished with 12 points, on 5-of-8 shooting, and five rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Junior forward Carl Lee (Warwick, RI) had 12 points and five boards.


Nedwick and Garrow finished with a game-high 17 points for the Warriors. Junior forward Bill Roveto (South Windsor, CT) recorded a game-high eight rebounds.


In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will continue Little East Conference play when it hosts second-place UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday, Jan. 26.