February 26, 2010






Providence, RIóJunior guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) hit a long jump shot with 6.3 seconds left in the game to lift top-seeded Rhode Island College to a 74-72 win over fourth-seeded UMass Dartmouth in the first semifinal game of the 2010 Little East Conference Menís Basketball Tournament at The Murray Center. The Anchormen, who win for the sixth consecutive game, advance to face second-seeded Western Connecticut tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m. It is the fourth straight season the Anchormen will play for the conference championship.






 Junior Guard Antone Gray




Sophomore forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) led RIC (19-7) with 20 points, to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Senior guard Jake Grimes (Providence, RI) was one board shy of a double-double with 15 points and nine boards, while also dishing out a team-high four assists. Gray finished with 13 points, three helpers and two steals.




UMD (18-9) sophomore center Lance Greene (Dorchester, MA) posted a double-double effort with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. Junior forward Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA) finished with 20 points and five rebounds, while senior forward Brandon Shelton (Cambridge, MA) contributed 11 points.




We played extremely hard and made some big plays down the stretch," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said. "Playing in the title game for the fourth straight year is a significant achievement. We are 40 minutes away from our ultimate goal."


The two Little East heavyweights took turns holding the lead through the first 5:15 of the game. Trailing, 10-9, the Anchormen went on a 7-0 run to open up a six point, 16-10, lead with 12:32 left in the first half. Freshman guard William Williams (Bronx, NY) and sophomore forward Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) got the ball rolling with a free throw apiece. Choice followed by cashing in back-to-back layups.




UMass Dartmouth sophomore guard Steve Ramos (Lynn, MA) cut the visitorís deficit in half with a three-pointer from the corner 17 seconds later, only to see the Anchormen rattle off another seven-point run to go up, 23-13, with 10:20 left. Gray drained a three and was followed by layups by freshman guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) and junior forward Darius Debnam (Dorchester, MA).




The hostís advantage grew to a game-high 11 points, 33-22, on a three-pointer by Choice at 8:23 and then again, 38-27, on a Grimesí layup with 3:40 left.




UMass Dartmouth heated up offensively and went on a 9-2 run to close out the half down by four points, 40-36. Shelton had five points and Greene contributed four points to lead the way.




RIC shot 44 percent (15-for-34) from the field and made 6-of-8 from the free throw line over the first 20 minutes. UMD shot 48 percent (15-for-31) from the floor and 40 percent (4-for-10) from downtown. RIC forced 11 Corsair turnovers on four steals through the first 20 minutes.




UMass Dartmouth stormed back in the second half, going on a 14-9 run to go up by one, 50-49, with just under 14 minutes left in the game. Five different Corsairs scored in the comeback, paced by a Stephensí three-pointer and the go-ahead, second-chance bucket. An Akinrola free throw and a layup after a Corsair miss gave RIC back the lead, 52-50, at the 12:38 mark.




Back-to-back scores in the post by Choice gave the Anchormen a six-point lead, 56-50, at 8:53. After being fouled, Greene made two free throws for UMD, only to see Choice muscle in a putback on the ensuing possession.






 Sophomore Forward Mason Choice




With just over eight minutes left, Shelton backed his way down into the post and sank a shot to pull UMD within four again, 58-54. After a Corsair miss, sophomore guard Alex Klepadlo (Bernardston, MA) stole an Anchormen pass and fed a driving Greene who was fouled while trying to dunk the ball. He made one of his free throws to cut the deficit to three points, 58-55, at 6:58.




Akinrola sank a free throw, but once again the Corsairs had the answer. Sophomore guard Paul Rose (Boston, MA) hit a three from the top of the key at 6:37 to make the score, 59-58.




Grimes drove for an Anchorman layup, but then Rose was fouled and hit two from the line. A RIC foul after a missed shot sent Greene to the line for two more and he calmly sank both of his attempts to put UMD up, 62-61, at 5:25.




A UMass Dartmouth blocking foul with 4:24 left in the game put Choice on the line and he made both of his shots to give RIC back the lead, 63-62. Greene was hammered under the basket during the ensuing possession and he made the front end of two attempts to tie the game, 63-all. UMD got the rebound off the second miss and Greene was fed for an easy layup under the rim to put the visitors up by two, 65-63.




Two free throws from Grimes knotted the game up, 65-apiece, at the 3:54 mark. Shelton was fouled 29 seconds later while attempting a trifecta and he drained two of three from the line to put his squad up by two, 67-65.


Gray banged home a longball, RIC forced a turnover and Debnam drove the baseline for a layup to put the Anchormen up, 70-67, with 2:11 left in the contest.


Shelton went back to the line for two more after being fouled and made both, but Debnam was fouled driving to the rack and he equaled the UMD seniorís efforts.


An acrobatic shot from underneath the backboard by Stephens once again brought the visitors within a point, 72-71, with 1:33 left. A miscommunication led to RIC throwing the ball away and giving UMD the ball back with 1:02 left.


With 41 seconds left in the game, Shelton drove to the basket and was tripped. He made his first attempt to tie the game, 72-72, but RIC grabbed the rebound to set up Grayís heroics. The Corsairs drove the length of the court and junior guard John Kanarskiís (Marblehead, MA) desperation three-point attempt from the top of the key missed wide to give the Anchormen the win.


RIC shot 43 percent (27-for-63) from the field in the game and made 15-of-20 from the free throw line. UMD shot 44 percent (25-for-57) from the field and equaled the hostís efforts from the charity stripe. The Anchormen held a slight advantage in rebounding, 38-35, and turned the ball over five fewer times (20-15).