December 10, 2011



Willimantic, Conn.-Eastern Connecticut never trailed after the first three minutes, snapping a seven-game losing streak at the hands of two-time defending Little East Conference champion and previously unbeaten Rhode Island College, 70-59, at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.


Eastern (6-1, 2-0 LEC) handed Rhode Island (9-1, 1-1 LEC) its first loss of the season by winning its fifth straight. The loss snaps the best start in a season for the RIC men's basketball program since the 1970-71 edition opened with a 13-0 mark.


"We weren't ready to guard today, and when we don't show up ready to guard we will struggle to win," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said. "Give Eastern credit, their half-court execution was better than our defense. They deserved to win."


Having received mention in the most recent Division III national poll, Rhode Island was coming off a 57-47  home win over No. 15 nationally-ranked WPI on Thursday, and had not lost to Eastern since a 79-77 decision in February of 2008.



 Senior center Mike Akinrola


The game was the re-match of the 2011 LEC tournament title game,  with the host Anchormen downing the Warriors for the 14th time in 15 meetings, 62-49. Eastern's previous three home victories over RIC had come by a total of eight points. Rhode Island was the pre-season favorite to capture its third straight LEC title, while Eastern was picked for a tie for fourth despite reaching last year's LEC title game.


Eastern had four double-digit scorers, led by senior forward  Hamilton Levy (Woodbury, CT), who scored a season-high 18 points (5-for-7 from the floor)  in a career-high 34 minutes. Senior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists, while senior forward Jamie Kohn  (Columbia, CT) 12 points and eight rebounds. Junior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton, CT) added 10 points and five rebounds.


After surrendering a 13-4 RIC run that pulled the visitors to within a point with 5:30 left, Eastern responded with 10 consecutive points over three minutes  to salt the game away. Two decisive plays over the final minutes were the result of an RIC goaltending call on a shot by Levy with 3:40 left that gave Eastern a 56-50 lead, and a three-point play by Kohn on an-bounds pass under the basket moments later that made it 59-50 with three minutes left. Both buckets were assisted by junior guard Joe Ives (Avon, CT).


Eastern shot 51.1 percent from the floor in the game and canned half of its 12 three-point field goal tries.


Eastern forced 20 Rhode Island turnovers and committed only 13 fouls, which put the visitors at the foul line only 10 times, where they missed seven. Led by Levy (6-for-8), Kohn (4-for-5) and Nedwick (4-for-6), the Warriors were 16-for-24 from the foul line.


Senior center center Mike Akinirola (Woonsocket, RI) led RIC with 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Junior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) added 14 points and six rebounds and sophomore guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) contributed 14 points.


Senior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI), Rhode Island's  top rebounder and second-leading scorer, was held to six points and four rebounds in 25 minutes. Choice left the game briefly with 5:56 left and his team trailing by two after being saddled with his fourth foul, and he was dismissed with his fifth personal foul with 2:45 left and his team trailing by 10.


RIC is off for finals and Christmas Break. In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will play at Wheaton on Thursday, Jan. 5 (7 p.m.).