March 5, 2010



Middlebury, VTJunior guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) and senior backcourt mate Jake Grimes (Providence, RI) each scored 19 points to lead Rhode Island College past Rutgers-Newark, 72-60, in first round action of the 2010 NCAA Div. III Men's Basketball Tournament played at Middlebury College.


 RIC advances to face host Middlebury, which defeated Gordon, 64-57, in the Second Round tomorrow at 7 p.m. Tickets will be reserved at the Middlebury College box office for RIC fans to purchase only from 6 to 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 6 before being released to the general public.


 The Anchormen (21-7) have won their first round game and advanced to the second round in three of the last four years. It was the eighth straight win for RIC, which has not lost since Feb. 2. The Scarlet Raiders (20-8), who were making the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, see their season come to an end.



 Junior All-Little East Guard Antone Gray


 Gray shot 6-for-9 from the field, made 5-of-6 from the free throw line and also contributed three boards and four assists. Grimes also had the hot hand, making 5-of-10 from the field and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed four rebounds and swiped two steals. Gray scored 12 points, and Grimes notched 11, in the second half.


 Sophomore forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) and junior forward Darius Debnam (Dorchester, MA) rounded out the RIC contingent in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Sophomore forward Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) corralled a team-best nine rebounds.


 "It was a really hard fought, tough win against a really good team," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said afterwards. "We only gave up eight field goals in the second half.  I'm really proud of how tough we played."


 Rutgers-Newark opened the game with back-to-back buckets by senior forward Deshawn Singleton (Passaic, NJ) to take a 4-0 lead. The Anchormen responded with a basket from Choice and two Grimes free throws. It would prove to be the first of four ties in the first half as the two squads went back and forth with the advantage.


 Rhode Island College went up by four points, 14-10, to enjoy its largest advantage of the half on a Grimes layup. The Scarlet Raiders then went on a 5-1 run, paced by three free throws by senior guard James Johnson (Summit, NJ) and a Singleton layup to knot the contest at 15-all.


 Senior forward Phil Barnes (Middlesex, NJ) put Rutgers-Newark up, 17-15, on a layup with 9:51 left in the first stanza and the Scarlet Raiders held off the Anchormen for the rest of the period. That bucket by Barnes ignited a 13-3 run, which helped the New Jersey Athletic Conference squad build a half-high, 10-point lead, 28-18, with 6:03 left.



 Senior All-Little East Guard Jake Grimes


 RIC battled right back over the next 2:39 to pull within two points, 28-26, with 4:24 left. A three-pointer by Gray, a layup by Debnam and layup and ensuing free throw by Grimes paced the attack. RNU continued to hold off RIC over the final minutes as Akinrola dropped in a layup with 40 seconds left to bring the Anchormen within in one at the break, 37-36.


RIC held an advantage in rebounds, 20-16, at the half. The Anchormen shot 48 percent (13-for-27) from the field, knocked down 3-of-7 from downtown and made 7-for-9 from the free throw line over the first 20 minutes. Rutgers-Newark shot 44 percent (14-for-32) from the floor, dropped in 2-of-5 from three-point land and cashed in 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.


 The Scarlet Raiders continued to keep the Anchormen from overtaking their lead over the first 8:50 of the second half. With RIC down by one, 48-47, Gray nailed a jumper to give the Anchormen their first lead since the first stanza and Grimes followed with a jump shot of his own to make the score, 51-48, at the 10:16 mark.


 A jumper by Rutgers-Newark senior guard Tim Smith (Mullica Hill, NJ) tied the game 51-51, with 9:16 remaining. RIC bounced right back with a layup by Gray at 9:02 to regain the lead, 53-51.


 The bucket from Gray ignited a 16-3 run for the Anchormen who were able to build a 13-point, 67-54, lead over the next 7:32. Gray and Choice keyed the outburst with six points apiece. Debnam and Grimes each sank a pair of free throws.


Two free throws apiece from Gray and Choice over the final 25 seconds helped seal the win.


 Johnson led all scorers with 20 points, while Singleton posted a double with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.


 RIC shot 44 percent for the game (24-for-55), but free throws were the key as the Anchormen missed only four times in 24 attempts (20-for-24). The Scarlet Raiders shot 33 percent (22-for-66) from the field, made 13-of-15 (87 percent) from the line, but struggled from downtown, making only three of their 18 attempts. RNU held a slight advantage in rebounding, 41-39.