They move within a game of first with 72-65 Little East win over UMD
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team never trailed in the second half, leading by as many as 15 and sinking seven of eight free throws over the final five minutes to emerge with a 72-65 Little East Conference victory over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Above: Nick Nedwick defends against UMass Dartmouth's Colin Burns in Saturday's 72-65 Little East victory. Nedwick and Burns each led their respective teams with 20 points.
By sweeping UMass Dartmouth (11-12, 5-7 LEC) for the third straight season, Eastern (18-5, 9-3 LEC) retains a share of second place in the conference with Western Connecticut. With two regular-season games remaining, Western and Eastern both moved to within a game of leader Keene State College after Western dumped the Owls, 108-105 in overtime Saturday at Danbury.
Leading by five at halftime, Eastern withstood 11 second-half turnovers by sinking 54.5 percent of its second-half field goals and eight of ten free throws. In the second half, senior Jamie Kohn (Columbia) and Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) combined for 22 of Eastern's 34 points. After scoring two points in the first half, Kohn responded with ten points and six rebounds after the break, with Nedwick leading the way over the final 20 minutes with 12 points on 5-for-8 field goal shooting.
With Eastern leading by seven with five minutes left, Kohn converted four of four free throws and senior Chae Philips (West Haven) was 3-for-4 from the stripe.
Eastern's three inside players of senior Hamilton Levy (Woodbury), Chris Robitaille (Canton) and freshman Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) all finished the game with four personal fouls. Robitaille picked up his third and fourth personals six minutes into the second half and left the game in favor of Yarborough with the Warriors leading by eight. He returned six minutes later with the Warriors in charge of a 12-point lead.
Nedwick shared game-high scoring honors with UMass senior guard Colin Burns with 20 points, with Levy scoring 19 points. Kohn recorded his first double-double since Dec. 3 with a game-high 11 rebounds. Robitailled added ten points (eight in the first half) and four blocks and Philips had five points, six rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes off the bench.
After missing 12 of 19 free throws in a one-point loss at Western Tuesday, Eastern responded by sinking 12 of 18 against UMass.
UMass, coming off a five-point home win over two-time defending LEC champ Rhode Island Tuesday, got 20 points (8-for-14 from the floor and four three-pointers) from Burns, with senior center Lance Greene adding 14 points and ten rebounds and three steals.
Eastern visits Keene State College Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. before closing out the regular season and conference season at the University of Massachusetts Boston next Saturday at 3 p.m.