RIC Anchormen Beat Rival UMass Dartmouth to Advance to Little East Title Game

Rhode Island College news release…

Willimantic, Conn.-Senior forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) and classmate guard Eric Alleyne (Watertown, MA) combined for 41 points to lead second-seeded Rhode Island College to a 75-63 victory over third-seeded UMass Dartmouth in the semifinals of the 2015 Little East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday night at Eastern Connecticut’s Geissler Gymnasium.

With the victory, the Anchormen (20-7) reach the Little East Tournament title game for the ninth straight season and will face fourth-seeded Keene State, who upset the tournament’s top seed, Eastern Connecticut, 81-63, earlier in the day. The meeting between the two schools will mark the third time in the past nine seasons the teams have met in the LEC Championship Game. RIC is 2-0 in the previous meetings.

Rhode Island College has won 18 of its last 20 meetings with Keene State, including the last eight. The Anchormen’s last setback to the Owls was a 92-91 loss on Jan. 14, 2012.

The Anchormen jumped out to an early lead on the Corsairs (14-13), taking a seven point lead, 17-10, on a layup by sophomore forward Terrance Tribble (White Plains, NY) with 10:17 left in the first half. The Anchormen increased their lead to as large as nine, but a 9-2 run by UMD, capped by a three-pointer by senior guard Josh Castillo (Lynn, MA), knotted the score at 21 apiece with 4:37 left in the half. The defense stepped up for both teams down the stretch with the score entering halftime tied at 23-23.

RIC was paced by senior center Victor Smith (Providence, RI) who scored eight points in the half, while the Corsairs were led by senior guard Jake Laga’s (Northampton, MA) nine points.

The Anchormen opened the second half on a roll, taking a 10 point, 37-27, lead on a layup by Burton with 16:20 left in the half. An Alleyne free throw upped the RIC lead to 14 with 12:42 left to play. A jump shot by Laga trimmed the UMD deficit down to eight, 48-40, with 8:36 left in the half, but a 12-4 run by the Anchormen over the next 3:37 gave them a comfortable 16 point, 60-44 lead with just under five minutes left to play.

A layup by UMD junior guard Jordan Rezendes (Onset, MA) with 3:58 left made the score 62-51 RIC, but Burton sank 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to seal the 75-63 victory.

Rezendes, the LEC’s leading scorer in the regular season, scored 20 points with Laga pitching in 17 in the defeat. The Corsairs shot 37.1 percent (23-for-62) from the floor, 31.8 percent (7-for-22) from three-point land and 66.7 percent (10-for-15) from the charity stripe.

Burton finished with a double-double, registering 20 points and 12 boards, while Alleyne scored a game-high 21 points. Smith had a solid performance off the bench for the Anchormen, scoring 10 and hauling in seven boards. Freshman guard Roosevelt Shider (Meriden, CT) also scored in double figures with a 15-point effort. RIC finished the game shooting 41.0 percent (25-for-61) from the field, 75.0 percent (21-for-28) from the charity stripe and 30.8 percent (4-for-13) from downtown.