January 22, 2013



Providence, R.I.-Sophomore forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rhode Island College men’s basketball team to a 56-51 comeback victory over Western Connecticut on Tuesday night at The Murray Center in Little East Conference action.


Rhode Island College (15-2, 7-1 LEC) picked up its sixth straight conference victory and its eighth consecutive win overall, while Western Connecticut (4-13, 2-6 LEC) dropped its third contest in a row.


“I was really disappointed we let offensive struggles in the first half affect the way we competed,” said Head Coach Bob Walsh after the game. “But we showed a lot of courage and determination to pull out the win in the second half.”


With four minutes gone by in the first, the Anchormen took a 7-1 lead on the visitors on a freshman center Mike Neal (Pawtucket, RI) free throw. WCSU answered back with an 8-0 run, keyed by two jumpers from sophomore forward Luis Bridtter (Stamford, CT) and a big three-pointer by sophomore guard Phillip Starks (Hartford, CT).


A layup by senior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) and a free throw by Burton gave RIC a 17-13, lead at 6:30, but the Colonials ran off 13 straight points to go up, 26-17, with just under a minute left to go. Starks canned five points and junior guard Joseph Setaro (North Haven, CT) contributed two buckets.


WCSU shot 38 percent (11-for-29) and made just 2-of-12 (17 percent) from downtown as the visitors went into halftime up by 11, 28-17. RIC shot just 21 percent (6-for-29 (21 percent) and turned the ball over 10 times in the first 20 minutes.


The second half proved to be a much different story for the Anchormen, as the hosts opened the frame with a 12-5 run through the first six minutes of action to cut the deficit to four. After back-to-back baskets from the Colonials in transition put the visitors ahead by eight, 37-29, with 11:35 left to play, Rhode Island College followed with a 9-1 run of its own to pull within a point, capped off by a bucket from sophomore guard Alex Cruz (East Hartford, CT) with 8:26 remaining in the game.  





Starks answered back for Western with a pair of baskets to extend the lead to five with 6:24 on the clock, but the resilient Anchormen countered with five straight points to knot the game at 43, highlighted by a game-tying, baseline three-pointer from junior guard Nyheem Sanders (Pawtucket, RI) with 5:23 to play.


After the Colonials immediately regained the lead on a jumper from senior center Leroy Mayers (Bronx, NY) at the 4:57 mark, both offenses fell silent until the final three minutes of action, when a three-point play from Burton in the paint gave the Anchormen a 46-45 lead with 2:39 remaining.


The hosts refused to relinquish the lead from there as Rhode Island College connected on all of its free throws down the stretch and also received a pair of fast break baskets from Burton and senior guard Ethan Gaye (Providence, RI) to help the Anchormen fend off the pesky Colonials in the waning minutes of action.


RIC was keyed by its stingy defense late in the game, as the Anchormen held Western Connecticut to just 10 points through the final eight minutes and just six points through the final five minutes.


Burton paced the defensive effort with three steals to go along with his game-high 18 points, while Cruz added 10 points and seven rebounds in the win. Carter registered eight points, eight rebounds, and two steals, while junior guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) hauled in seven boards to go along with three points off the bench. Meanwhile, Sanders chipped in with 10 points and three rebounds after missing the last three games.


Starks led the Colonials with 14 points, while junior guard Russell Payton (Stratford, CT) recorded 11 points, four assists and three rebounds. Mayers added nine points, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in the loss.  


Starks led the Colonials with 14 points, while junior guard Russell Payton (Stratford, CT) recorded 11 points, four assists and three rebounds. Mayers added nine points, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in the loss.


The Anchormen shot just 33 percent (19-for-57) from the field, 17 percent (2-for-12) from downtown and 67 percent (16-for-24) from the free throw line. The Colonials shot 39 percent (21-for-54), 24 percent (4-for-17) from long range and 56 percent (5-for-9) from the charity stripe.


Rhode Island College outrebounded Western, 46-34, and gathered 21 offensive rebounds as a team.


In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will continue Little East Conference play at Eastern Connecticut on Saturday, January 26 (3 p.m.).