November 15, 2011


Akinrola Leads the Way with 21 Points

Providence, R.I.- Senior center Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) tallied a game-high 21 points, while classmate forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) contributed 16 points, as the Rhode Island College men’s basketball team cruised to a 70-52 victory over the Clark University Cougars in Tuesday night’s season opener at The Murray Center.


Junior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) neared a triple-double, as he finished with 11 points (tying his career-high), eight assists and six rebounds to go along with three steals. Most importantly for the point guard, Carter finished with zero turnovers, while shooting 5-for-6 from the field. Sophomore guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) also posted a double-digit scoring effort as he finished with a career-high 12 points.



 Senior center Mike Akinrola


RIC (1-0) shot just 37 percent in the first half from the field and were just 1-for-11 from beyond the three-point arc. However, the Anchormen stormed back to shoot 67 percent in the second half, outscoring Clark (0-1), 43-32, in the final frame to pull away with the victory. Most of those second half points came in the paint, where RIC outscored the Cougars, 24-8. Yet, it was the defensive effort that caught Head Coach Bob Walsh’s attention, as the Anchormen forced 18 turnovers.


“I was very happy on the defensive end,” said Walsh. “We held them to 32 percent shooting and 52 points and if we do that, we can win a lot of games. Carter and DeCiantis really stepped up in new roles and that was great to see.”


The Anchormen jumped out to an early, 10-2, lead after a layup from Carter capped off an eight-point run. However, a four-point play from sophomore guard Jake Gubitose (Fiskdale, MA) with 13:26 remaining in the first half halted RIC’s momentum and kept the Cougars within four.



 Senior forward Mason Choice


Both teams traded buckets through the next few minutes, until the Anchormen extended their lead to six points on a basket from junior guard Ethan Gaye (Providence, RI), making it 23-17, RIC. A three-pointer from senior guard Travis Curley (Trumbull, CT) cut the Clark deficit to three with 3:09 remaining in the half, but a pair of buckets from Akinrola and sophomore guard Avery King (Pawtucket, RI) in the final minutes gave the Anchormen a 27-20 lead heading into the break.


Neither squad could establish much offense in the early minutes of the second half, as both teams increased the defensive intensity and forced a handful of turnovers coming out of the intermission break. However, the Cougars chipped away at the deficit until a basket from senior forward Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, MA) knotted the game at 33 apiece with 13:12 left to play.


That is when the Anchormen caught fire, as the home team went on a nine-point run over the next few minutes, highlighted by a pair of buckets from Carter to make it, 42-33, RIC with 9:59 on the clock. After DeCiantis buried a three with 8:24 remaining, junior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) threw down a ferocious two-handed slam dunk to give the Anchormen a 12-point edge, 47-35.



 Sophomore guard Tom DeCiantis


A pair of free-throws from senior guard Drew Billington (Fairfield, CT) cut the Clark deficit to 10 with 6:54 remaining, but the Anchormen never looked back from there. Akinrola led Rhode Island College with 10 points in the final six minutes, as the Anchormen outscored the Cougars, 23-15, down the stretch, en route to the 18-point victory.


Akinrola, Choice, DeCiantis and Carter combined for 60 of RIC’s 70 points in the win, while Roberts had a solid game off the bench, contributing with six points and seven rebounds. Choice tallied seven rebounds, accompanied by five assists and a pair of steals, while Akinrola also added four boards and three blocks to go along with his game-high 21 points.


The Cougars were led by Vayda, who totaled 18 points, six rebounds and three steals in the loss. Billington also reached double-figures, as he posted 10 points to go along with a team-high five assists. Senior forward Marko Radovich (Geneva, Switzerland) notched five points and six boards for Clark, while Curley added five points.


In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will travel to Becker on Thursday, Nov. 17 (7 p.m.).