Cougar's depth, experience are too much in 75-64 loss in tip-off title game
By Bill Mullins, Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The Clark University men's basketball team used a 23-2 run over an eight minute span late in the first half to hand the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team a 75-64 loss in the championship game of the 32nd Annual Tip-Off Tournament Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
At right: Brian Salzillo
During the run, Eastern (1-1) managed just one basket, a layup by junior Mike Garrow (Terryville) and from there Clark wouldn't look back it seized upon the momentum and was able to solve the Eastern defense with relative ease and use its size to limit quality looks for the Warriors.
In the battle for third place, Bowdoin College (1-1) limited Western New England University (0-2) to 32.3 percent shooting in the second half in a 72-63 victory.
For Clark (2-0), all ten players who saw action score points by halftime. Senior Brian Vayda and senior DJ Bailey led four players in double figures for the visiting Cougars with 16 apiece, while junior Jake Gubitose and senior Marcus Armstrong each added 10 points in the Clark victory.
In addition to leading the Cougars in scoring in both of their games at the tournament, Vayda was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after accumulating 40 points and 12 rebounds in the two-game affair. Joining Vayda, Bailey also was recognized on the all-tournament team for Clark after putting up 25 points and six rebounds in the tournament.
Eastern senior Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) scored a layup to cut the Clark lead to 60-56 with 5:13 to play but in the end the veteran-laden Cougars, with their depth, just ended up being too much for this young group of Warriors to handle. Eastern employed a full-court press tactic to get back in the game late in the second half and saw success as it cut four points off what once was a 14 point advantage for the Cougars, but couldn't draw closer than that the rest of the way.
After a couple of shot clock fiascos, Clark was able to keep its composure a bit better and a layup by Armstrong and a three-pointer in transition from Vayda pushed the Cougar lead to 11 and Clark would hold on to win by that margin.
For the second game in a row Eastern junior Brian Salzillo (North Haven) started off hot as he hit three of his first four attempts from beyond the arc en route to a game-high 20 points, to go along with career-high tying marks of six rebounds and four assists. Salzillo was one of four players to hit double figures for the Warriors. Also hitting the double-digit mark were Garrow and senior Chris Robitaille (Canton), with 14 each, while the aforementioned Hundley chipped in 12 to go along with four rebounds before fouling out in the final minute of the game. A night after being frustrated into a 2 for 11 performance from the floor, Robitaille was able to find some more space but struggled from the stripe to the tune of just 2 of 6 shooting and a new cause for frustration.
Sophomore Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) and Garrow led the way for the Warriors on the boards with seven apiece as Eastern was outrebounded by a 33-31 margin. Continuing a disturbing trend from a first-round win over Western New England, Eastern was high on the turnovers again, as it committed 16 (35 in the tournament), compared to just eight for the Cougars. Free throws, coupled with the turnover deficiency proved vital in the undoing of the Warriors. Eastern shot just 7 of 13 (53.8 percent) from the stripe while Clark hit on 15 of its 20 tries (75.0 percent).
Once again the Warriors shot well from deep, hitting on 50 percent of their tries (11 of 22), but unlike Friday, found it tough sledding from inside the arc, making just 12 of 30 two-point tries. Despite using 11 players throughout the course of today's game, Eastern received little relief in turning to the reserves as it shot a combined 0-for-4 from the floor, and only Yarborough saw extended playing time.
Like Clark, Eastern also landed two players on the all-tournament team in juniors Garrow and Salzillo, both repeating their honors from a year ago. For the tournament, Garrow scored 29 to go along with 14 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocked shots. Salzillo scored 32 points, while also contributing 12 rebounds and four assists.
The tournament title for Clark was its second in as many tip-off appearance. The Cougars also beat Eastern in the 1982 final, 74-71.
The Warriors will be back in action Tuesday at Trinity College at 5:30 p.m. before returning home the following Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. tilt against Connecticut College.
Bowdoin College 72, Western New England 37
Bowdoin's bench outscore the bench of Western New England 22-4 as the Polar Bears downed the Golden Bears for third place.
All-tournament selections Keegan Pieri and Bryan Hurley, both sophomores, led the way for Bowdoin. Pieri had a team-high 17 points on 50 percent shooting and added six rebounds while Hurley had 11 points and ten assists. Seven-foot sophomore John Swords came off the bench to outscore Western New England's subs 12-4 on 4-for-6 field goal shooting and 4-for-5 free-throw marksmanship.
Swords all grabbed seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Junior Andrew Madlinger was perfect for Bowdoin, scoring 15 points on 6-for-6 field goals (3-for-3 from "three").
Senior Damon Alston responded from a scoreless opening ight with a game-high 20 points for the Golden Bears, junior Ryan Mickiewicz adding 15 and junior Dennis Rinaldi, who did not see action Friday 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds and game-high four steals.
Vayda (16 points, 5 rebounds, and four assists) was named the player of the game by the Eastern Connecticut Sport's Information Office for his efforts.
With the loss Eastern's all-time record against Clark falls to 3-7.
With his two blocks, Robitaille moves into sole possession of sixth place on the school's career blocked shot list.