February 18, 2012



RIC To Host Plymouth State on Tuesday Night

Providence, R.I.- Senior center Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) finished with 14 points, five rebounds and three steals, while senior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) totaled 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists, as the Rhode Island College men’s basketball team knocked off Keene State, 65-57, in the regular season finale at The Murray Center on Saturday in Little East Conference action.


With the win, RIC (20-5, 10-4 LEC) finished the regular season in a three-way tie for second place along with the Owls and Western Connecticut. RIC will enter the 2012 Little East Conference Tournament as the No. 3 seed, drawing a home game in the quarterfinal against No. 6 Plymouth State on Tuesday night (7 p.m.).



 RIC seniors Keith Hamilton, Mason Choice and Mike Akinrola were honored,
along with their families, prior to the game as part of Senior Day 2012


“Our defensive intensity really controlled this game from the start,” said Head Coach Bob Walsh. “Ethan Gaye, Tahrike Carter and Kadeem Francis really gave us great minutes on that side of the ball. And what can you say about our seniors? Another 20-win season for the fourth straight year. What they've done for this program is remarkable.”


Keene State (18-7, 10-4 LEC), which had a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed with a strong finish to the regular season, instead fell to the fourth spot in the Little East Conference tourney standings after dropping its final three games. The No. 4 Owls will host No. 5 UMass Dartmouth in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, while No. 1 Eastern Connecticut and No. 2 Western Connecticut earned first-round byes.


The Anchormen got off to a great start behind a tenacious defensive effort that forced 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of action. In fact, the Owls didn’t connect on their first field goal until the 14:28 mark when sophomore center Montel Walcott (New Haven, CT) hit a layup. Rhode Island College opened the game on a 13-1 run, and soon went up by as many as 18, before heading into the half with a 33-24 lead. Keene State attempted just 18 first half field goals (6-for-18), while committing 15 first half turnovers. Yet, a strong effort from the free throw line (11-for-15) kept them in the game.


RIC’s second half lead hovered around nine points throughout much of the second stanza. However, momentum began to shift towards the Owls late in the game after a 5-0 run was capped off by a trey from junior guard Anthony Mariano (Naugatuck, CT), making it, 60-54, with just 2:53 left to play.


After junior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) netted a free throw on the other end, sophomore forward John Boyatsis (Dover, NH) responded with another three-pointer to cut the deficit to just four, making it 61-57. Yet, free throws from Akinrola and sophomore guard Michael Palumbo (Providence, RI) over the final minute helped put away the Owls and seal the victory for the hosts.


Sophomore guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI), who was heavily recruited by the Owls coming out of high school, finished with 11 points and four rebounds in the win. Palumbo chipped in with eight points, while sophomore guard Avery King (Pawtucket, RI) added six points off the bench. Junior guard Ethan Gaye (Providence, RI) and sophomore guard Kadeem Francis (White Plains, NY) received high praise for their defensive effort on the afternoon. Gaye totaled six points, four rebounds, and three steals, while Francis contributed with three points of his own.


Junior guard Ryan Martin (Wayne, ME) led the Owls with 14 points and five assists, while Mariano added 13 points and four rebounds. Walcott posted eight points and a game-high nine rebounds off the bench, junior center Rashad Wright (Agawam, MA) recorded six points, three boards, and two blocks.


Akinrola finished the night just one-point shy of 1,000 for his career.