February 26, 2011


Akinrola Named Most Outstanding Player

Providence, R.I.-Junior center Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) was named the Most Outstanding Player as Rhode Island College captured the 2011 Little East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship with a dominant defensive effort, taking out third-seeded Eastern Connecticut, 62-49, at The Murray Center.


Rhode Island College (19-7) advances to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season. Eastern Connecticut (19-9), which took out second-seeded Western Connecticut last night, see its tourney run come to an end.




RIC will find out its next opponent and where it will play when the NCAA announces the 61-team field for the 2011 Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament on Monday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m.


It is the fourth Little East Conference Tournament Championship for the program in the last five years (2010, ’08, 07). The Anchormen have won at least a share of five LEC Regular Season Championship over the past seven campaigns as well.


"Our guys have really bought in on the defensive end and I'm really proud of that," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said. "This is the best defensive team I've ever coached. To hold a team to 49 points like that is remarkable. Five straight NCAA Tournaments is an incredible feat."


Eastern continues its longtime struggles against the preeminent power in the Little East, having dropped 14 of their last 15 matchups with the Anchormen. The Warriors were making their first tournament finals appearance in 11 years.


Akinrola, who was responsible for “The Murray Center Miracle” with a dramatic, buzzer-beating, game-tying, three-pointer, to force a second overtime in RIC’s, 102-92, win over Keene State last night, posted 12 points, nine boards, one block and a steal in today’s win. Over the two victories, he averaged, 17.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while shooting 50 percent (12-for-24) from the field.



 Junior center Mike Akinrola receives the 2011 Little East Conference
Men's Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award from
LEC Director of Communication Jack Holleran.


Senior forward Carl Lee (Warwick, RI) fell one rebound shy of his second consecutive double-double with a 12-point, nine-rebound effort, to go along with two steals. Senior guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) pitched in with 11 points and five rebounds. Sophomore guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) scored all of his nine points in the second half.


Gray and fellow senior forward Darius Debnam (Dorchester, MA) will become the only Anchormen in program history to play in the NCAA Tournament in each of their four seasons.


Rhode Island College utilized its depth in the frontcourt—accounting for 16 of its 20 first half points and a plus-10 advantage on the boards (24-14)—to hold the lead throughout the first frame. The Anchormen set the tone early en route to scoring the first eight points of the contest. Debnam fueled the surge with four points, while junior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) and Akinrola chipped in with two points apiece.


Eastern junior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) temporarily halted the run with a three-pointer, but the hosts provided the answer by sandwiching a pair of layups between a Warrior bucket.


The game was tight at halftime, with the hosts holding a 20-17 lead. Neither team was in rhythm offensively as RIC shot 28 percent (8-for-29) and the Warriors posted a 27-percent effort (6-for-22). The Anchormen struggled from downtown over the first 20 minutes, missing all of their 10 attempts.


A dunk by Lee, following a Gray miss, brought The Murray Center crowd to its feet as RIC went up by eight, 29-21, at 16:32 of the second half. Lee gave the hosts a 10- point cushion, 51-41, at 5:54 with a layup.


The Warriors would not get closer than nine points and RIC closed out the game in a methodical fashion. The Anchormen converted six free throws down the stretch.


For the game, Rhode Island College shot 36 percent (20-for-55) from the field, posting a 46-percent effort (12-for-26) in the second half. RIC made 18-of-20 (90 percent) from the free throw line.


Eastern shot 28 percent (15-for-54) from the field and made only 4-of-17 from downtown. The hosts held a 44-34 advantage in rebounding.


Three Warriors scored in double figures as Nedwick, junior guard Jamie Kohn (Columbia, CT) and sophomore guard Mike Garrow (Terryville, CT) each netted 10 points.