February 19, 2011


Anchormen To Host Conference Semifinals & Finals on Feb. 25-26

Providence, R.I.-Senior guard Nick Manson (Newport, RI) scored a team-high 22 points as the Rhode Island College menís basketball team clinched a share of the 2011 Little East Conference Regular Season Championship with a 97-67 victory over the Plymouth State Panthers in the regular season finale at the Foley Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.


RIC (17-7, 11-3 LEC) will share the 2011 crown with Western Connecticut (21-4, 11-3 LEC). The win completes a remarkable turnaround for the defending champion Anchormen, who overcame a two-game deficit to the Colonials over the final two weeks of the regular season.




The Anchormen, who started off January by going 4-5 over their first nine games, rallied to win their final six games, and eight of their last nine.  RIC wins at least a share of the Little East Regular Season Championship for the third straight year and the fourth time under sixth-year Head Coach Bob Walsh. It is the fifth regular season title for the Anchormen in seven years.


The Anchormen won the tiebreaker for the top seed and the right to host the semifinals and finals of the 2011 Little East Conference Tournament. Although RIC and WestConn split the regular season series and both scored sweeps of third-seeded Eastern Connecticut, the Anchormen's superior head-to-head record versus fourth-seeded Keene State (RIC 2-0, WCSU 0-2) carries the day.


RIC and WCSU receive byes from Tuesday's first round. Both teams resume play on Friday evening, with RIC tentatively scheduled to play the first game of the night at 6 p.m., with WCSU playing a neutral site nightcap at The Murray Center to begin at approximately 8 p.m.



 Senior guard Nick Manson


The Anchormen will host the winner of Tuesday night's No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup pitting UMass Dartmouth at Keene State. Although the Corsairs swept the season series over Keene, the Owls (16-9, 8-6 LEC) bested the Corsairs (11-14, 7-7 LEC) by one game to earn homecourt advantage. The Colonials will face the winner of Tuesday's other matchup, which has the sixth-seeded Panthers (11-13, 5-9 LEC) traveling to third-seeded Eastern Connecticut (16-8, 9-4 LEC).


Manson was red-hot from the outside for the Anchormen, draining 6-of-10 shots from three-point range and 7-of-13 overall. Junior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) converted 6-of-7 from the field to finish with 17 points, while junior center Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) added 13 points and senior guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) contributed 10 points and seven assists.


The Panthers got a game-high 26 points from senior Ryan Lambert (Derry, NH), who made 9-of-18 from the field.  Senior Tom Dowd (Portsmouth, NH) added 12 points and classmate Ian Dempsey (Andover, MA) chipped in with 10.



 Junior forward Mason Choice


Plymouth State jumped out of the gate and took an early nine-point advantage (16-7).  RIC responded with 10 straight points to take the lead, thanks to eight points from senior forward Carl Lee (Warwick, RI), and then scored nine unanswered points to open up an 11-point margin, 31-20. Choice hit a late three-pointer to send the Anchormen to the locker room with a 15-point margin.


RIC maintained a double-digit advantage in the second half, pulling away to a 20-point bulge with 12:30 to play, and PSU got no closer than 16 the rest of the way.