February 25, 2012


Anchormen Will Look For NCAA At-Large Bid on Monday

Willimantic, Conn.-Despite 21 points from senior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI), third-seeded Rhode Island College fell to No. 1-seeded Eastern Connecticut, 82-60, in the 2012 Little East Conference Tournament Championship game played at Geissler Gymnasium on Saturday.


Eastern Connecticut (22-5) earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the win, while Rhode Island College (22-6) will have to find out if it will receive an at-large bid to the 62-team 2012 Div. III Menís Basketball Tournament field on Monday, Feb. 26. It is the first season since the 2005-06 campaign that the Anchormen have not won either the LEC Regular Season or Tournament Championship.



 Senior forward Mason Choice


"Give Eastern all of the credit," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said afterward. "They were the better team in every area and answered everything we threw at them in the second half. I'm really proud of our guys and what we've accomplished so far. We played in our sixth straight league title game this year and on Monday we will receive our sixth straight bid to the NCAA Tournament. We now move on to play for a national championship."


The Anchormen led throughout much of the first half, until senior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) drained a three-pointer with 3:07 remaining to give Eastern its first lead, 31-30. Senior center Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) answered back with a pair of free throws to put RIC back on top by one, but senior guard Jamie Kohn (Columbia, CT) closed out the half with three straight points to send the Warriors into the break with a 34-32 advantage over the visiting Anchormen.


The second half was all Eastern Connecticut, as they opened the frame on a 17-8 run and took an 11-point lead with 13:01 on the clock after a three-point play from senior forward Hamilton Levy (Woodbury, CT). A layup from Choice cut the RIC deficit to nine, making it, 51-42, with 12:26 left to play, but that would be the closest the Anchormen would come in this one, as the Warriors once again went ahead by double-digits and held a commanding lead the rest of the way. After that basket from Choice, Eastern outscored RIC, 31-18, through the remainder of the game.


The Warriors shot 48 percent (23-for-48) from the floor, including 8-of-17 shooting (47 percent) from beyond the three-point arc. Eastern Connecticut also took advantage of opportunities at the free throw line, where they shot 80 percent (28-for-35).


On the other end, the Anchormen were held to just 36 percent shooting (19-for-53) from the field and 35 percent shooting (6-for-17) from downtown. RIC also finished the evening shooting 67 percent from the charity stripe (16-for-24).


The Warriors held the edge on the glass, outrebounding Rhode Island College, 35-27. RIC also lost the turnover battle, coughing it up 14 times compared to just eight turnovers for Eastern.


Five Warriors posted double-digit scoring efforts, including Kohn, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Nedwick led Eastern with 16 points, while senior guard Chae Phillips (West Haven, CT) and junior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton, CT) each notched 15 points. Sophomore guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven, CT) recorded 11 points off the bench, while Levy added five points and six boards.


Rhode Island College was led by Choice, who finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Junior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds, while Akinrola added 12 points in the loss.


In total, Eastern Connecticut received 29 points from its bench, while RICís bench contributed with just 10 points.