January 9, 2014



Providence, R.I.-Junior forward Jacob Page’s (Brookline, MA) jumper with 1:11 remaining in the second half proved to be the game-winning basket for Rhode Island College, as his clutch shot helped propel the Anchormen to a 56-55 victory over Tufts University in non-conference men’s basketball action played at The Murray Center on Thursday night.


Junior forward Victor Smith (Providence, RI) led Rhode Island College with 14 points and four rebounds off the bench, while freshman guard Austin Cilley (Westerly, RI) finished with 13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals. Senior guard Michael Palumbo (Providence, RI) chipped in with 12 points, including 10 in the first half, to go along with two assists and two steals for RIC, which improves to 7-5 on the season overall.


“We defended the way we were capable of,” said Head Coach Bob Walsh. “When you hold a team to 55 points, you deserve to win. Our pressure controlled the game and made them uncomfortable and I’m proud of the way our guys fought.”



 Junior forward Jacob Page


The Anchormen forced Tufts (6-5) into 16 turnovers and shot 46 percent (12-for-26) from the floor in the first half, en route to a 32-23 lead at the break. Rhode Island College scored 21 points off turnovers through the first 20 minutes, while RIC’s bench scored 19 of their 32 first-half points.


After RIC extended its lead to 10 early in the second half following a three-pointer from Page with 17:25 on the clock, the Jumbos clawed their way back into the game behind a 10-3 run over the next three minutes. Senior guard Kwame Firempong (Los Angeles, CA) capped off the run with three-pointer to cut the deficit to three, 40-37, with 14:49 left to play, but Smith quickly helped the Anchormen rally with four straight points to up RIC’s lead to seven. 


The resilient Jumbos would answer right back with an 11-3 run of their own, capped off by a basket from freshman center Hunter Sabety (Oceanside, NY) with 9:37 remaining, to pull the visitors within one, 48-47. Following a single free throw Rhode Island College on the other end, Tufts surged ahead of RIC with five straight points and took a 52-49 lead over the hosts with 7:59 on the clock, thanks to a three-pointer from junior guard Ben Ferris (Essex Junction, VT).


The Anchormen, who shot just 33 percent (8-for-24) from the field in the second half, finally found a rhythm offensively late in the ballgame, as a layup from Palumbo and three points from Smith gave RIC a 54-52 lead with 4:38 left to play. However, Tufts eventually went on to take a 55-54 lead, courtesy of senior forward Tommy Folliard’s (Richmond, VA) deep three-pointer with 2:27 on the clock.


After the two teams exchanged turnovers on each end of the floor over the next minute of action, Page, who finished with nine points in the win, drove into the lane with 1:11 remaining in the game and buried a jumper to put the hosts on top, 56-55. The Jumbos had several chances to regain the lead, but were stymied on each occasion by the Anchormen defense. In a last ditch effort to steal a win on the road, Firempong stole the inbounds pass with eight seconds left and fired an open three-pointer from the top of the key. However, his shot fell short, propelling Rhode Island College to its third victory in four games.


Sabety led Tufts with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Firempong finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three steals in the loss. Ferris added 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in his season debut, while Folliard posted six points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Oliver Cohen (Lower Merion, PA) chipped in with a team-high six assists and three rebounds.


In total, the Anchormen forced the Jumbos into 25 turnovers, while coughing the ball up just 16 times on the other end. Tufts, however, held a decisive, 40-22, advantage on the glass and hauled in 15 offensive rebounds as a team.


Rhode Island College shot 40 percent (20-for-50) from the floor, 56 percent (5-for-9) from downtown and 79 percent (11-for-14) from the free throw line.


Tufts shot 38 percent (19-for-50) from the field, 32 percent (6-for-19) from outside and 85 percent (11-for-13) from the charity stripe.


In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will resume Little East Conference action at Keene State on Saturday, Jan. 11 (3 p.m.).