Providence, R.I.- Providence, R.I. – Junior guard Nyheem Sanders
(Pawtucket, RI) finished with a team-high 15 points, while sophomore
forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) added 11 points, seven rebounds,
three blocks, three steals and three assists, to lead the Rhode Island
College men's basketball team to a 63-49 victory over UMass Boston on
Saturday afternoon at The Murray Center in Little East Conference
Sparked by a standout defensive performance in the first half, Rhode Island College (10-2, 2-1 LEC) picked up its third consecutive victory with the win over UMass Boston (6-5, 1-2 LEC). With the win, Head Coach Bob Walsh moves into a tie with Bill Baird for second all-time in program history with 168 career wins.
The Anchormen held the Beacons to just six points through the first 17 and a half minutes of action and went into the intermission with a 36-14 advantage after leading by as many as 25. Nine different Anchormen got in the scoreboard in the first half alone as the hosts shot a modest 44 percent from the floor through the first 20 minutes.
"Our defense in the first half was terrific," said Walsh. "To hold them to one point through the first nine minutes and to keep them to 22 percent shooting with 16 turnovers in the first half is really special. We still have to work on sustaining the intensity for 40 minutes, but we'll take the result."
Led by junior forward Rahshjeem Benson (Boston, MA), UMass Boston managed to outscore the Anchormen, 35-27, in the second half and at one point cut the margin to just 13 with 10:19 left to play, but couldn't overcome the 22-point halftime deficit.
Benson led the Beacons with a game-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Senior guard Mike Mitchell Jr. (Dorchester, MA) added 11 points, five rebounds, five steals and two assists, while sophomore forward Carl Joseph (Brockton, MA) finished with five points and five rebounds.
Senior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) helped pace the Anchormen with seven points and two blocks off the bench, while sophomore guard Alex Cruz (East Hartford, CT) spearheaded the defensive effort with three steals to go along with three points and four rebounds. Freshman center Mike Neal (Pawtucket, RI) added five points and four rebounds, while junior guard Michael Palumbo (Providence, RI) and senior guard Randy Casey (Attleboro, MA) each finished with six points.
Rhode Island College controlled the glass to the tune of 44 rebounds, compared to just 32 for the Beacons, and shot 41 percent (21-for-51) from the floor, compared to a 31 percent (16-for-51) shooting effort from the visitors.
RIC shot 25 percent (3-for-12) from long range and 60 percent (18-for-30) from the charity stripe, while UMass Boston shot 17 percent (2-for-12) from beyond the arc and 58 percent (15-for-26) from the free throw line.
In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will continue Little East Conference play at Southern Maine on Tuesday, January 8 (7:30 p.m.).