March 5, 2011


RIC Downs Oswego State, 71-63, Led by Mason Choice & Carl Lee

Oswego, N.Y.Rhode Island College junior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) had 17 points, four assists and two rebounds as the Anchormen defeated Oswego State, 71-63, in second round action of the 2011 NCAA Div. III Men's Basketball Tournament played at Max Ziel Gymnasium


RIC (21-7) advances to the Sectional Round, reaching the "Sweet 16" for the second consecutive season and the third time in five years. The Anchormen are now 3-1 in NCAA second round games under Head Coach Bob Walsh.


The Anchormen will face long time nemesis Amherst (24-3) on Friday, March 11 (5:30 p.m.) at Williams College. Ironically, the two teams were supposed to face each other at RIC on Feb. 1, but inclement weather forced the game to be cancelled. Amherst has defeated RIC four times in five matchups since 2006-07.


If RIC gets by the Lord Jeffs, it will face the winner of Williams (27-2) and Virginia Wesleyan (25-4) on Saturday, March 12.



 Junior forward Mason Choice


"Tonight's win showed how much character and toughness our guys have," Coach Walsh said. "To lose a First Team All-League player (junior center Mike Akinrola) the day of the game and have so many other guys step up is just phenomenal. We beat a great team on there home floor to go to the Sweet 16. I'm really, really proud of our guys."


Senior forward Carl Lee (Warwick, RI) finished with 15 points and seven boards. Classmate frontcourt mate Darius Debnam (Dorchester, MA) contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Nick Manson (Newport, RI) added 13 points, which included three trifectas to equal Lee's long range efforts.


"Darius Debnam was a beast for us tonight," Walsh added. "He probably had the best game of his career when his team needed him the most."


RIC opened the game on a 12-2 run, paced by two three-pointers by  Lee. The Lakers (24-5) stormed back to get within one point, 12-11, as sophomore forward Hayden Ward (Montauk, NY) contributed a bucket and a pair of free throws to the effort.


Another Lee longball, along will layups by sophomore guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) and senior guard Antone Gray (Providence, RI) put the visitors up by eight, 19-11, with 12:12 left to go in the first half.


Oswego State tied the game with a 10-2 run, capped by back-to-back three-pointers from senior guard Jose Uribe (Queen, NY).


Ward put the hosts on top, 23-21, with a layup at 6:54, but Debnam answered with a bucket on the following possession to tie the game.


A layup from Choice and two Lee free throws gave the Anchormen a four-point advantage, 27-23, at 4:48, only to see the Lakers run off four straight on two Ward free throws and a game-tying jumper by sophomore forward Chris Gilkes (Syracuse, NY).



 Senior forward Carl Lee


Gilkes cashed in a jumper with just under two minutes left to go in the first half, but Choice and Debnam each nailed a pair up layups to give RIC a slim, 31-29, lead at halftime.


In the first half, RIC shot 42 percent (12-for-23) from the field, 30 percent (3-for-10) from downtown and 67 percent (4-for-6) from the free throw line. Oswego shot 37 percent (10-for-27) from the floor, 23 percent (3-for-13) from long range and made 75 percent (6-for-8) from the charity stripe. The hosts held a slight advantage, 17-12, in rebounding at the break.


The opening 1:37 of the second half was wild as RIC outscored Oswego State, 10-6, paced by two treys from Manson to open up a 41-35 lead.



 Senior guard Nick Manson


The Lakers ran off six straight points to tie the game 43-all with 12:13 remaining. Ward started the comeback with two free throws and a jumper. Gilkes tied the game with a jumper of his own.


On the ensuing possession, Carter was fouled and drained both of his attempts from the line to give RIC a two point lead, 45-43, at 12:06.


Two Choice free throws at 10:45, a Manson layup at 10:09 and a Debnam bucket at 9:01 gave RIC a seven point advantage, 51-44.


After a Lee basket put the Anchormen up by six points, 53-46, at 7:57, Ward was fouled and made two from the charity stripe 19 seconds later.


Manson dealt the Lakers a big blow with a three-pointer at 6:26 to make it 58-49, visitors. Junior forward Chad Burridge (Hannibal, NY) sank two from the line at 4:38 to make it a seven-point disadvantage.


A Choice free throw at 3:29 made it a 10 point game, 63-53, and RIC closed out the game to claim the victory.


Ward finished with game-highs of 21 points and nine boards for the hosts. Burridge netted 14, while Gilkes added 14.


RIC finished the game shooting 55 percent (19-for-52) from the field, 43 percent  (6-for-14) from long range and 70 percent (23-for-33) from the free throw line. The Lakers shot 37 percent (19-for-52) from the field, 18 percent  (4-for-22) from long range and 81 percent (21-for-26) from the free throw line.


Oswego State held a slight advantage in rebounding, 30-26.


"Over 400 schools play basketball at this level and there are only 16 left with a chance to win a national championship," Walsh said. "Rhode Island College is one of those teams for the second straight year."