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Charity to benefit Be The Match is combined with Team IMPACT
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team and alumni will sponsor a Goal-a-Thon to benefit the Be The Match National Marrow Donor Program Saturday, April 20 at 9 a.m. at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
All proceeds from the Goal-a-Thon will benefit the Be The Match program in the name of Eastern soccer senior Jon DeCasanova, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia this past fall and has spent most of the past eight months in the hospital.
The Goal-a-Thon involves Eastern players and alumni divided into teams of 4-6 and will play timed, small-sided games until a combined total of 100 goals are scored.The minimum sponsorship is 5 cents per goal.
Prior to the Goal-a-Thon, 15-year-old Tyler Belfleur of Canterbury will be outfitted in a team uniform and will join team members during official introductions as part of the Team IMPACT! Program. In June of 2012, Tyler was involved in an ATV accident and sustained brain injury. Since then, he has advanced from a wheelchair to a walk and now needs only a crutch. Prior to the injury, Tyler was active in soccer and basketball, among other sports.
Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses. The goal of the organization is to harness the power of teamwork by matching those courageous kids with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are "drafted" onto local college athletic teams and to the greatest extent possible, become "official" members of the team for the duration of their treatment, and beyond.
Tyler will be "drafted" by the Eastern soccer team prior to the Goal-a-Thon.
To support the Goal-a-Thon through a financial contribution, contact Eastern head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito at 860-465-4334 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff
The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) has designated the month of March as National Athletic Training Month.
The theme of the second annual NATA month is Every Body Needs an Athletic Trainer. From the NATA toolkit, the goal is "to continue to reach those individuals and organizations that can help make a difference for athletic trainers when it comes to legislation, employment and public health."
At right: Athletic trainer Julie Alexander works recently with baseball catcher Ben Richards, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. (Daniela Marchitto photo)
Promoting the awareness of athletic training to people who do not know what athletic trainers do is a key goal that the NATA looks to achieve. Educating people of the importance of athletic trainers and establishing relationships between student-athletes and athletic trainers are things to consider in promoting the awareness.
Eastern Connecticut State University has athletic trainers who work hard without needing any recognition or high praise. The athletic trainers at Eastern are people who are helpful to the student-athletes and make sure each are cleared to play based on the guidelines on handling a specific injury.
Below (from left): Eastern athletic trainers Julie Alexander, Stevie Clines, Tom Holton, Jarrett Sorge.
Athletic trainer Julie Alexander, who graduated from Eastern with a B.S. in Psychology and went on to earn a M.S. in Athletic Training at Old Dominion University, expressed her feelings on the importance of this month and beyond.
"I think that we will carry out our day-to-day functions the same way we always have," said Alexander. "Any athlete that comes in with an illness or an injury that's athletically-related, we care for the same way regardless of whether it's March, April, May, August or September. I think this month of March is more to promote the field of athletic training to people who don't understand what it is that we do. A lot of people think athletic trainer, they think personal trainer, a strength coach, and while we do have some function in teaching strength and conditioning and techniques, we're also on the field emergency care, injury evaluation, treatment rehabilitation, returning to play concussion management, the list goes on and on."
Alexander, who was hired at her alma mater this past summer after many years at Division I Sacred Heart University, has been proud of helping out the people she has met in her field.
"After 20 plus years, I can tell you that anytime we have an injured athlete, the best day is the day that they return to their field of play," said Alexander. "That is probably the most exciting thing about what we do, especially if it's an athlete that's been injured, had surgical interventions, has gone through post surgical rehabilitation in our room; returning to play is those days I look forward to. I enjoy every day but those are the days that are special."
As there are upsides, there are downsides for being an athletic trainer. Athletic trainer Tom Holton, who earned a B.S. in Physical Education from Eastern and an M.S.S. in Sports Medicine from the U.S. Sports Academy, noted that he loves his job but dislikes when he lets the student-athlete know the bad news.
"I love doing my job it's just part of the job you hate saying 'you can't play'," said Holton. "I really wish I could come into work every day and not have to do that.. The reality of the fact is that there's people we have to hold out and tell them 'you're season's over, you got to have surgery' and deal with the emotions of that athlete and how they're going to handle 'my career is over'."
Holton, a staff member since 1999, noted how being able to get the student-athlete to get back in his or her field of play and watching him or her succeed is one of his proudest moments as an athletic trainer.
Eastern director of athletics Dr. Jeff Konin, another Eastern alum, has been an athletic trainer and a physical therapist. Konin mentioned how the importance of athletic trainers is not just for the collegiate level, but for all levels of competition.
"The purpose is to bring awareness to the general public, to bring awareness to the public of the importance of athletic trainers and the injury prevention care of the numerous student-athletes that participate in sports in all levels," said Konin. "At the high school level, less than 50 percent of high schools have an athletic trainer, and when every high school has programs but less than half of them have proper ways to care for the kids, that's why an awareness month is there to inform people of what they should be doing to provide appropriate programs. You wouldn't put them out there if you didn't have the fields, you wouldn't put them out there if you didn't have the coaches and you really shouldn't put them out there if you don't have the appropriate medical care for them."
As the spring season is starting to get into full-swing, so are the athletic trainers at Eastern working hard to make sure every student-athlete is evaluated and cleared to play. The month of March will be busy at Eastern with lacrosse, baseball, softball, and track & field. The Eastern athletic trainers will be the unsung heroes in helping our student-athletes, not only during national NATA month, but every month of the academic year.
"I have the best job in the world," said Alexander. "In this job, you don't sit behind a desk or do the same thing every day . Every day is different , and you get to work with amazing people who you want to see get better when they get injured.. What's better than that?"
Senior forward becomes program's first such selection in 11 years
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Eastern Connecticut State University senior men's basketball forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) has become the first player from the program in 11 years to earn ECAC New England Division III All-New England honors when he was named as a second-team choice.
At right: Chris Robitaille (Photo by Cris Yarborough)
The 6-foot-5 inch Robitaille was the only player from the Little East Conference to be named to the team, whose members can only qualify by being named to the first team of their respective conference all-star teams. Robitaille led Eastern (22-8) to its first ECAC championship last Sunday by averaging a double-double (20.0 points/10.3 rebounds) with a .614 shooting in three tournament victories. The No. 3-seeded Warriors defeated No. 1 seed and host Westfield State University, 74-60, in the title game.
A four-year player and 2012/13 tri-captain, Robitaille led the conference in field goal percentage (.573/currently 35th in the NCAA) for the second straight year and was first in the LEC in minutes (33.0), tied for second in rebounding (8.4), tied for fourth in scoring (14.6), tied for fifth in blocks (1.1) and tied for ninth in assists (2.3), all of those marks except field goal percentage representing season-highs in his career. During the year, Robitaille had 12 double-doubles (currently 27th nationally and the most in the conference), with five of them coming in the final seven games, and reached the 1,000-point mark in the final game of his career in the ECAC title game.
Robitaille concluded his109-game career with 1,003 points (9.2 ppg.) and 638 rebounds (5.9), 93 blocks and 136 assists and a .573 field goal percentage, ranking among the program's all-time Top 10 in rebounds and blocks and third in field goal percentage.
Six players were named to the All-ECAC first team and five to the second, with Aaron Toomey of Amherst College and Quarry Greenway of Johnson & Wales University being voted Player and Rookie-of-the-Year, respectively. Robitaille, one of only two selections from a public university, becomes the program's sixth All-ECAC choice since 1985/86 and the first since Rich Vega repeated as a third-team choice as a senior in 2001/02.
"Chris being honored by the ECAC is a tremendous recognition for all his hard work," cited 11th-year head coach Bill Geitner. "This year, Chris consistently demonstrated that he was one of the best forwards in the country. He has been a special ambassador for our basketball program," added Geitner, "and I am happy for him to be recognized by the ECAC."
Robitaille and fellow seniors Joe Ives (Avon) and Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) paced the Warriors to four consecutive 20-win seasons in their careers - the winningest four-year period in the program's 72-year history -- one LEC regular-season and tournament crown, a berth in the 2011/12 NCAA Sweet 16 and to the No. 1 seed in the ECAC tournament in consecutive seasons.
He has adapted to cultural and athletic differences in England
By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff
Jamie Kohn played his final collegiate basketball season at Eastern Connecticut State University last year. Now, the 23-year-old Kohn is playing professionally in a different nation. Kohn has always wanted to explore new horizons and play the game he loves. Now he gets to do both.
Jamie Kohn's (at right) adjustment to international basketball and English culture has been a smooth one. (Photo courtesy of David Kohn).
A stalwart on three straight 20-win seasons at Eastern - including last year's NCAA Sweet 16 qualifier -- Kohn is a guard/forward for the Tees Valley Mohawks (Division 1 and National Trophy) of Middlesbrough, England, in the England Basketball League. Middlesbrough is a large town situated on the south bank of the River Tees in north east England, that sits within the county of North Yorkshire.
Upon graduating with a degree in health and physical education from Eastern, Kohn signed a one-year contract with Tees Valley through April.
"The owner of the team that I'm playing for now is from the [United] States and is an old friend of the family," said Kohn. "We got in contact with him and he's seen me play over the years and he's the one that offered me the contract to play."
On the court at Eastern, the 6-foot-5 inch Columbia, Conn. native led the Little East Conference in rebounding twice, earned a spot on the LEC All-Defensive Team in each of his final two seasons, and was selected as tournament MVP when the Warriors won the Little East tournament championship a year ago.
In his career, Kohn scored over 1,000 points and graduated third all-time in program history in rebounding. Off the court, Kohn may have even been more accomplished - if that's possible. He was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Honors Court as a senior, was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and earned spots on the LEC All-Academic Team in all three years of eligibility.
Kohn, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Austria, noticed the differences playing basketball in England than in the U.S. Kohn noted how basketball is not Europe's most popular sport -- that being futbol -- but Kohn noted how pleased he was with how the basketball culture is growing.
"It's an adjustment and it's very different. Basketball in Europe has been growing a whole lot over the past decade," said Kohn. "It is getting a lot bigger and more and more people are playing it and following it more. There are different rules; it's a different type of game in a whole new league. There are differences that I have to adjust to but it's something that I'm used to. I had to adjust from high school to college to professional and it's been great. "
The affable Kohn (at left) is enjoying life on and off the court overseas. (Photo courtesy of David Kohn).
As of early February, Kohn was the No. 1 player in Men's Division 1 and National Trophy play, averaging 20 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Kohn reflected on how he was able to perform at a high level.
"It makes me feel good. It makes me feel special that it shows that all the hard work has been paid off and a lot of it I have to thank Eastern and the program that I went through there," said Kohn. "It was a big part of my development as a player and I'm seeing that pay off a lot in the specific things that I got better at, the things that we focus on, the defensive mind of (Eastern head coach Bill Geitner), and those kinds of things are how I got better in every way."
Kohn has strong ties not only to his alma matter but also one of his most influential persons in his life.
"My father, David Kohn, has been my coach and my mentor all throughout my life, and he's taught me a lot of what I know," said Kohn, whose younger siblings, brother Jessie, and sister Emily, both currently attend Eastern. Jessie spent last semester studying in Spain while Emily is a first-year member of the Eastern track & field program.
For Kohn, living outside the U.S. is not a new experience. In fact, he was born outside the country in Oberndorf, Australia and spent the his childhood in that country while David Kohn attended Clown School and toured with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. As a youth, Jamie travelled with his father and also won age group state championships in basketball on teams coached by David.
As a young teenager, Jamie moved with his family to Columbia and played high school basketball at Coventry High School. Jamie's mother, Dorli, is Austrian but speaks four languages fluently and graduated from the University of Salzburg and his father played water polo and swam intercollegiately at the University of Connecticut, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Kohn is excited to get attention from new fans and players from a new perspective of playing basketball in Europe.
"Once you come to Europe and play on a team, it's a lot easier to get exposure from around Europe and other teams," said Kohn. "For a player like me who can play at a high level -- but not at the NBA level -- this is where I want to be."
At left: Kohn's intensity and unselfishness on the court played a big part in Eastern's recent rise to prominence in the Little East Conference.
Kohn is still a team player has he has gotten along well with his new teammates.
"That was one thing that was a very positive surprise for me," said Kohn. "I knew none of my teammates besides the owner's son. I'm living with two of my teammates and it's been really great. The two people I'm living with are the other American players on the team. Everyone with the exception of one Nigerian is British, and we are really close, kind of like a family type atmosphere, which is what you want in a team."
When he can, Kohn watches the live stats and video broadcasts of Eastern's men's basketball team, following them through the Little East tournament and on to the ECAC tournament championship.
"It's been really great to see those guys and keep that winning tradition going at Eastern," said Kohn. "The last couple of years, we got that tradition going, which culminated last year with the Little East regular season and tournament championship, and Sweet 16. Last year, we were a second from being out of it three times, but we stuck together and never gave up and I know that's what they did this year."
Kohn is focused on the rest of the season playing with the Mohawks and enjoying the opportunity to play at a professional level in a new world.
Eastern Athletics Weekly will stream live at 12:25 p.m. on Littleeast.tv on Wednesday, March 6 from the Sports Center. Hosts Nick Aconfora, Sean Harrison and Nick Minutelli will re-cap the men's basketball team's ECAC New England Championship this past Sunday. They will be joined by senior tri-captain Chris Robitaille and head coach Bill Geitner. The hosts will also look back at the baseball team's season-opening four-game trip with senior starting pitcher and captain Evan Chamberlain. The one-hour show will be be archived immediately upon its completion for later viewing and can be accessed under "Recent Archives" on Littleeast.tv .
Warriors honored with program-best four players; Preston is top rookie
Two freshmen players from young women's team are named All-Rookie
Clockwise from far left: Garrow, Robitaille, Preston, Salzillo
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team set program bests when four players - two of them first-teamers - were named to the 2012/13 All-Little East Conference team, as voted upon by the eight conference head coaches.
Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terrvyville) were both selected to the six-player first team, while junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) were among five second-team picks.
In addition, Preston became the program's fourth Rookie-of-the-Year in seven years, following Edwin Ortiz (2006/07), Courtney Simmons (2007/08) and program scoring leader Nick Nedwick (2008/09).
Eastern's four overall men's selections and two first-teamers led all conference schools in the balloting. It marked the first time in 26 years of conference play that as many as four Eastern players were recognized with the honor. Eastern had two first-team picks last year for the first time in Nedwick and Hamilton Levy.
Picked to finish third in the conference this year after losing four starters from the 2011/12 LEC regular-season and playoff championship squad, Eastern rode to a second-place finish with a program-high 12 LEC regular-season triumphs against two losses. After losing two starters late in the season to injury, the second-seeded Warriors were eliminated in the LEC semifinals, but third-seeded Eastern rebounded to capture three straight games and hoist its first ECAC New England Division III championship trophy nine days later to post their fourth straight 20-win season (22-8).
A rebuilding Eastern women's team - whose starting lineup usually featured three sophomores and a freshmen - place two freshmen on the five-person All-Rookie Team in guard Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) and forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA), give the Warriors seven such selections in seven years.
The 6-foot-5 inch Robitaille led the conference in field goal percentage (.570) for the second straight year and was first in minutes (33.0), third in rebounding (8.4), fourth in scoring (14.6) and tied for ninth in assists (2.3). He had 12 double-doubles (27th nationally), with five of them coming in the final seven games, and reached the 1,000-point mark in the final game of his career in the ECAC title game. Robitaille was the only Eastern player to receive LEC Player-of-the-Week honors this year, when he shared the honor in the second report of the season on Nov. 26.
Below: Leonard (left) and Ritrosky
The MVP of the ECAC tournament after averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 assists with a .676 field goal percentage, Garrow was fifth in the LEC in scoring (14.6) and field goal percentage (.505) and 12th in rebounding (5.5). In the ECAC title game, he had 25 points and a career-high 14 rebounds and was 10-for-15 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from three-point range. After appearing in only the first five games of last year and earning a medical redshirt, Garrow was the only Eastern player this year to start all 30 games and was second only to Robitaille by averaging 32.7 minutes per game.
Salzillo led a balanced Eastern attack with a 15.0 scoring average - second in the conference -- with 67.3 percent of his points coming from three-point range. He led the conference with an Eastern season-record of 94 three-pointers - 35 more than his nearest LEC competitor - and is rated sixth nationally with 3.36 makes per game. He canned at least one three-pointer in all 28 games in which he appeared, extending his streak to 35 over a two-year span. Salzillo was second on the team in free throw percentage (.849) but did not have enough attempts to qualify in the LEC.
No rookie was recognized more often than Preston, who was named the conference's outstanding rookie three times over the course of the season. Preston, who started the final 24 games of the season, ranked second in the conference among freshmen with a 10.8 scoring average, was second overall in three-point field goal percentage (.459), tied for seventh in assists (2.5) and seventh in free throw percentage (.787). He led all LEC rookies in each of the latter three categories.
Leonard and Ritrosky ranked 2-4 on the team in minutes played, combining for 44 starts. Leonard was third on the team in scoring (9.7) and third in rebounds and Ritrosky was first in free throw percentage (.742), second in rebounding (7.9) and fourth in scoring (9.5). The pair helped the Warriors to a share of third place in the conference, with their 8-6 LEC mark bettering the 4-10 showing of the previous year. Eastern finished 10-16, winning seven of 11 at one point after a 2-9 start.
Leonard was named both LEC Player and Rookie-of-the-Week Feb. 11 and was also the top rookie on Feb. 4. She scored a season-high 28 points Feb. 5 in a 70-55 conference home win over Western Connecticut Feb. 5 and recorded both of her season's double-doubles against the Colonials.
Ritrosky collected double figures in points in ten of the team's final 11 games, scoring nine in the other game in that stretch. In the season-ending 66-54 LEC tournament home loss to Rhode Island College, she had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Warriors 74, Westfield State 60
Tournament MVP: Mike Garrow
WATCH: Head Coach Bill Geitner reviews the championship (4:14)
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Following a slow start, the third-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team rode a 22-6 scoring run over the final nine minutes of the first half on the way to a 74-60 victory over top-seeded Westfield State University Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the 2013 ECAC New England Division III Tournament at the Woodward Center.
At left: Mike Garrow dribbles through Westfield's fullcourt press in the second half Sunday.
The ECAC title is the first in men's basketball for Eastern (22-8), which was making its seventh appearance since 1981. The Warriors had beaten Johnson & Wales University, 85-64, in a first-round home contest Wednesday and moved into the championship game for the third in its last three tournament appearances with a 77-65 win over second-seeded Anna Maria College Saturday at the Woodward Center.
Junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) was named tournament MVP after scoring 25 points and pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds (only the second time that he has had at least ten rebounds this year) in playing virtually all 40 minutes. Garrow was 10-of-15 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from three-point range as one of five Eastern players to contribute at least one three-pointer.
Westfield (23-6) sank two three-point field goals and completed a conventional three-point play to take a quick 9-1 lead four minutes into play, and led by six before the Warriors scored 22 of the final 28 points of the half to take a ten-point lead into the break. During that scoring stretch, five different Eastern players nailed three-point field goals, with Garrow contributing two, senior guard Tyler Hundley (Cheshire), junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and junior guard Justin Nunez (Hartford) and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) one each.
"It was definitely a battle," admitted 11th-year Eastern head coach Bill Geitner afterward. "It was 40 minutes of very, very intense basketball, but I think that our guys knew that that was going to be the case. We had the utmost respect for Westfield. We knew that it was going to be a very physical game, and our guys persevered."
Westfield started three seniors, among them 6-foot-7 inch Matt Devine and 6-foot-6 inch Ryan White, and guard Lee Vazquez. Devine and White combined for 19 points and 15 rebounds (Devine also blocking four shots), with the 5-foot- 6 inch Vazquez commiting mayhem with 15 points, six steals, four assists and three rebounds in 38 minutes. Vazquez was his conference's unanimous selection as Player-of-the-Year and was joined on the all-conference first team by Devine for a team which captured its first outright regular-season conference championship this winter.
At right: Westfield's Ryan White (at left in photo) is unable to prevent Chris Robitaille's 1,000th career point midway through the first half Sunday.
Eastern, which won nine of its last ten this season en route to its fourth straight 20-win season, pushed the lead to 13 when Salzillo fed Garrow for a driving transition basketball four minutes into the second half. After the Owls pulled to within five with six minutes left, Garrow took over by scoring seven straight Eastern points with a bucket in the paint, a corner three-pointer on a pass from Preston and a baseline drive to restore a nine-point lead with less than two minutes left. The Warriors kept the hosts at bay by sinking all ten of their free throws over the final 69 seconds, four of the freebies coming on one-and-one situations. Preston was 6-for-6 from the stripe in those final second, with Salzillo adding two and sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) two.
Salzillo, who wrapped up the season with a program-record 94 three-pointers, teammed with Garrow in the first half to keep the Owls from running away with the game. Both had 12 points in the half, with Salzillo adding three assists and three steals. After misfiring on five of their first six shots and turning the ball over three times on their first ten possessions against Westfield's pressing defense, the Warriors rallied to shoot 51.9 percent in the first half (Westfield just 30.3) .
Behind Garrow, Salzillo fired in 20 points, matching Garrow with four three-point field goals and adding five steals and five assists, and Preston added 12 points.
At left: Seniors Tyler Hundley and Chris Robitaille embrace following their final collegiate game Sunday. The team's third senior, Joe Ives, sat out the team's final ten games with a knee injury.
Six-foot-five inch senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) - who joined Garrow this year as a first-team All-Little East Conference selection -- completed a late run to 1,000 career points, reaching the milestone in his final collegiate game with a turnaround jump shot in the paint on his fifth attempt of the contest with 11:13 left in the first half - his third and fourth points of the game. Robitaille, the 27th player to reach that plateau in program history and the fifth under Geitner, finished the game with just seven points and three rebounds, but was instrumental in the team's surge to the final. Robitaille had a career-high 31 points with 11 rebounds in the first-round win and followed with 22 points and a career-high 17 rebounds (fifth double-double in six games) in Saturday's semifinal.
Robitaille led the Warriors in the tournament by averaging 20 points and 10.2 rebounds and shooting .614 from the floor. Garrow averaged 19 points and 7.3 rebounds and totaled ten assists and sank .676 percent of his field goals. Salzillo averaged 18.7 points and 3.7 rebounds, collecting a team-high 12 assists and shooting .519 from three-point range (14-of-27). The Warriors were 30-of-38 from the stripe in the tourney, shot .543 from the floor and .500 from three-point range (28-of-56).
Eastern completed the season by winning nine of 11 games on its opponents' home court. Westfield had won 11 of 12 overall entering Sunday's title game.
It is the sixth ECAC championship for Eastern - first since the women's lacrosse program defeated Plymouth State in 2002. Other ECAC titles came by the women's volleyball team in 1985 and 1988, men's soccer in 1974 and women's basketball in 1988-89.
Behind Robitaille in semis, Warriors win first ECAC game ever on road
At right: Chris Robitaille (Cris Yarborough photo).
WESTFIELD, Mass. - Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) had 22 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to lead the third-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to a 77-65 victory over second-seeded Anna Maria College Saturday at the Woodward Center that moved the Warriors into the championship game of the ECAC New England Division III Tournament for the third time in four years.
A winner of eight of its last nine, Eastern (21-8) faces No. 1 seed Westfield State University in Sunday's 1 p.m. championship game. Westfield (23-5) won for the 11th time in its last 12 games with an 88-72 triumph over fourth-seeded Castleton State in the first of Saturday's two semifinals.
In search of its first ECAC Tournament championship, Eastern won its first road game ever in the tournament in defeating Anna Maria (21-9) for the sixth time in seven meetings in this series. It was the first contest between the clubs in 17 years.
Coming off a career-high 31-point effort in Wednesday's 85-64 quarterfinal-round win over sixth-seed Johnson & Wales University, Robitaille move to within four points of 1,000 in his career with his game-high point total Saturday. Robitaille and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) each netted 13 points in the second half to spark the Warriors from a two-point halftime lead.
Robitaille has scored at least ten points in his last 14 games and has eight double-doubles in that span. In two tournament games, Robitaille has canned 24 of 34 tries from the floor and has commited only two turnovers.
Garrow followed Robitaille with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) contributed his eighth straight double-figure game with 17 points. Salzillo has drained five three-point field goals in as many tournament games, extending his program season record to 90. Salzillo, who averages 3.3 three-point field goals per game this season, has had at least basket from long range in his last 34 games dating back to the final weeks of last year.
Eastern shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the first half as compared to just 39.4 percent by the Amcats, and allowed only two points off turnovers, but led by only two points at the break. The Warriors were finally to break from a 49-49 tie and build a nine-point lead in the second half, thanks to an 11-2 run over five minutes. Robitaille contributed five points in the run and senior guard Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) sank two free throws. After missing the last two games with a concussion, Hundley came off the bench to hit his only field goal - a three-pointer - convert both of his free throws, grabbed two rebounds, hand out two assists and make two steals in 17 minutes.
Now in its seventh ECAC Tournament appearance since 1981, Eastern climbed over the .500 mark to 7-6 with this year's two victories. As the top seed, the Warriors reached the title game in both 2010 and 2011 but lost to Elms, 94-71, and Brandeis University, 65-50, respectively, at home. Until Saturday, the Warriors were 0-3 on the road in the tournament, losing first-round road games in 1981 and 1990 and a second-round tilt in 1986.
Eastern has won eight of ten games this year on its opponents' court and brings a three-game winning streak against Westfield into Sunday's title game. The Warriors have decisioned the Owls four of the last five times the clubs have met but have dropped the last two against Westfield on its court.
He leads second-half charge, finishes with career-high 31 in ECAC
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) improved his career-high point total for the second straight game with 31 points, shooting 14-for-18 from the floor in leading the No. 3 seeded Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team to an 85-64 victory over No. 6 seed Johnson & Wales University in the opening round of the 2013 ECAC New England Division III Tournament at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium Wednesday evening.
At right: Chris Robitaille battles Frank Robinson in the first half of Wednesday's ECAC victory. (Photo by Courtney Weber).
By registering its fourth straight 20-win season, Eastern (20-8) advances to the tournament semifinals Saturday at 3 p.m. against No. 2 seed Anna Maria College (21-8), which eliminated No. 7 seed University of Southern Maine, 76-62, Wednesday night. The semifinals and final will be played at No. 1 seed Westfield State University (22-5), which downed No. 8 seed Emerson College, 71-52. Westfield faces No. 4 seed Castleton State College in the first semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m. The Spartans edged No. 5 Wentworth Institute of Technology, 80-79.
The tournament final is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.
Playing its seventh straight home game in the ECAC tournament over a three-year span, Eastern scored 50 points on 69.0 percent shooting in the second half against Johnson & Wales to erase a five-point halftime deficit. Robitaille, who moved to within 26 points of 1,000 in his career, had 19 second-half points (8-of-9 from the floor), while junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) was perfect on three three-point field goals and added 11 over the final 20 minutes. Held scoreless in the first half, freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) added nine points in the second half.
Salzillo, who set a program season record this year for three-point field goals, followed Robitaille with 19 points, sinking 5-of-10 from long range, with sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) totaling a career-high 12 points , grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out five assists. Junior guard Mike Garrow (Terryville) chipped in 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Robitaille led all players in the game with 11 rebounds, recording his fourth double-double in the last five games.
Playing without two starters -- Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Rookie-of-the-Year and team scoring leader Quarry Greenway and leading rebounder Esaie Touze - the Wildcats scored 13 points off ten Eastern turnovers and shot 51.5 percent in the first half in opening up a five-point halftime lead.
Freshman guard Tom Garrick and senior guard Dan Barbour combined for 22 first-half points for the Wildcats, Garrick grabbing six rebounds.
Salzillo's three-point field goal three minutes into the second half gave the Warriors the lead for good and Eastern went on a 19-3 run over six minutes to push the advantage to 17, 63-46, with 11:30 left. Robitaille sparked that spurt with nine points, Salzillo burying two three-pointers and two free throws.
Barbour topped the Wildcats with 19 points (8-of-14 from the floor). Garrick had 17 points and eight rebounds, but only five of the points and two of the rebounds came in the second half. Junior guard Curtis Lucas added 15 points.
No.3 Warriors meet No. 6 Johnson & Wales Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team has been selected as the No. 3 seed in the 2013 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Division III Tournament and will host a first-round game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Wednesday's ECAC game features conference Rookie-of-the-Year selections in Eastern's Trachone Preston (at right) and Johnson & Wales' Quarry Greenway.
Eastern (19-8) meets No. 6-seeded Johnson & Wales University (15-12) for the first time ever in one of four tournament first-round games scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Because No. 2-seeded Anna Maria College (20-8) is unable to host beyond the first round, Eastern would host the Final Four on Saturday and Sunday if it wins Wednesday and top-seeded Westfield State University (21-5) is upset by No. 8-seeded Emerson College (15-11).
The ECAC bid is the seventh for the Warriors since 1981. Eastern is 5-6 in six previous ECAC appearances, 5-3 at Geissler Gym. Wednesday's game will be the seventh straight at home in the ECAC tournament game for the Warriors, who lost in the championship game as the No. 1 seed in both 2010 and 2011 after winning first round and semifinal-round contests at home.
Under 11th-year head coach Bill Geitner, the Warriors are making their fourth straight post-season tournament game, having reached the NCAA Division III Sweet 16 last year after capturing the Little East Conference championship and establishing a season record of 24 wins (in 30 games). A win Wednesday would give the Warriors a fourth straight 20-win season.
Eastern has played the last three weeks without starting senior point guard Joe Ives (Avon) and Saturday's Little East semifinal contest against Keene State College without senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire). Ives was lost for the season with a knee injury sustained Jan. 30 against Wesleyan University and Hundley received four stitches in his lip and sustained a concussion in last Tuesday's LEC first-round home win over Western Connecticut. It is likely that Hundley would return if the Warriors advance to this weekend's semifinals.
Wednesday, Eastern is expected to start junior Brian Salzillo (North Haven), sophomore Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) and freshman Trachone Preston (Enfield) in the backcourt, with 6-foot-5 inch senior Chris Robitaille (Canton) and junior Mike Garrow (Terryville) in the post. Junior Justin Nunez (Hartford) and freshman Kevin Leumene (Stamford) are the backcourt reserves and freshman Darryl Best (Hamden) will spell Robitaille and Garrow inside.
Salzillo (14.5), Garrow (14.1), and Robitaille (14.0) lead a balanced scoring group, with Preston (11.0) also in double figures. Salzillo, who has connected on at least one three-point field goal in his last 32 games (since going 0-for-3 against UMass Dartmouth Feb. 11 of last year), set a program season record when he canned one Saturday against Keene, giving him 80 in 25 games. Robitaille leads the club in rebounding (8.1), recording the 600th of his career Saturday and enters play Wednesday needing 57 points to reach 1,000 in his four-year career. He is shooting a conference-leading 56.2 percent from the floor.
Garrow and Robitaille are 2012/13 first-team All-LEC selections, with Salzillo and Preston second-team picks. Preston was additionally honored as LEC Rookie-of-the-Year.
In a 104-77 loss to 20-game winner Albertus Magnus in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinals last week (one week after nipping the Falcons by a pair), Johnson & Wales started one senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, with freshman guard Quarry Greenway, senior guard Dan Barbour and 6-foot-6 inch junior forward Esaie Touze all having started all 27 of the team's contests.
The game will feature respective conference Rookie-of-the-Year selections in Preston and the 6-foot-3 inch Greenway.
Greenway (15.4) leads a balanced Wildcat offense, followed by freshman guard Tom Garrick (11.6), junior guard Curtis Lucas (10.7) and Barbour (10.3). Touze (8.3) tops the club in rebounding, with Greenway at 7.5 Lucas, Barbour, Garrick and 6-foot-5 inch sophomore swingman have all recorded at least 20 three-point field goals.