RIC news release...
Providence, R.I.-Junior forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) racked up a career-high 27 points to go along with 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to propel the Rhode Island College men's basketball team to an 85-74 victory over Western Connecticut at The Murray Center in Little East Conference action on Tuesday night.
The Anchormen continue to hold a two-game lead over UMass Dartmouth for second place in the conference standings, while the victory was the 11th win in the last 14 games for Rhode Island College (15-7, 9-2 LEC). Meanwhile, Western Connecticut (14-7, 6-5 LEC) falls into sole possession of fourth place in the league standings with the loss and sees its three-game winning streak come to a close.
Aside from Burton's monster performance, junior forward Victor Smith (Providence, RI) helped pace the Anchormen with 15 points and eight rebounds, while senior guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. Freshman forward Terrance Tribble (White Plains, NY) chipped in with eight points and six rebounds.
"I'm really proud of the effort and energy we put forth considering everything we have had to deal with this week," said Head Coach Bob Walsh. "We practiced with only seven guys yesterday due to injuries, but we still came out with the intensity we needed to defend, rebound and win the game."
Freshman guard Kendall Marquez (Willimantic, CT) poured in a team-high 18 points for the Colonials, who shot just 33 percent (21-for-64) from the floor on the night, while junior guard Jengodji Gates (New Haven, CT) recorded 17 points off the bench. Senior forward Derek McIntyre (Salem, MA) pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds, including seven offensive boards, to go along with four points, while freshman guard Bobby Bynum (New Haven, CT) added 10 points for the visitors.
Rhode Island College jumped out to an early, 6-0, lead behind back-to-back three-pointers from Burton and soon led, 8-2, with 17:12 on the clock before the Colonials responded with a 12-4 scoring run to knot the game, 14-14, with 12:15 remaining in the half. After the two teams exchanged baskets over the next few minutes, a three-pointer from DeCiantis and a pair of free throws from freshman guard John Gause (Mount Vernon, NY) extended RIC's lead to five, but a jumper from Bynum at the 8:54 mark chopped the margin down to three, 23-20.
Bynum's bucket would be the final field goal of the first half for Western, as the Colonials went 0-for-11 from the floor to close out the frame, while RIC outscored the visitors, 17-4, during that span en route to the, 40-24, halftime lead. The Anchormen shot 48 percent (13-for-27) from the field through the first 20 minutes and went 5-for-10 from beyond the three-point arc, while holding Western to a paltry 25 percent (8-for-32) shooting effort.
Smith drained a basket to increase the Anchormen lead to 18, 42-24, their largest of the game to open the second half. However, the Colonials slowly chipped away at the deficit and eventually bounced back behind a 23-12 scoring run to pull within seven, 54-47, following a basket from Marquez at the 11:17 mark.
After Rhode Island College responded with six straight points to jump ahead by 13, with 10:08 left to play, Western Connecticut fired back with a 9-2 scoring run of its own to make it a six-point game, 64-58, with just 7:33 remaining. Although the Anchormen answered back and extended its lead to double-digits on several occasions over the next few minutes, the Colonials kept fighting and eventually trimmed the margin deficit to five, 75-70, thanks to a five straight points from Bynum and a three-pointer from Marquez with 2:33 on the clock. The visitors would not come any closer, however, as RIC closed out the game with a 10-4 scoring run en route to the, 85-74, victory.
For the game, RIC shot 48 percent (27-for-56) from the field, 41 percent (7-for-17) from beyond the arc and 69 percent (24-for-35) from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Western Connecticut shot 30 percent (6-for-20) from downtown and 68 percent (26-for-38) from the charity stripe.
The Anchormen outrebounded the Colonials, 47-41, but lost the turnover battle, 20-15. However, RIC dished out a whopping 19 assists as a team, compared to just eight dimes for Western.
In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will continue Little East Conference play at Southern Maine on Saturday, Feb. 15 (3 p.m.).