Thomas Tips Men’s Basketball Over Bears, 72-71

BOSTON, Mass. – Trailing by one with 10 seconds left on the clock, sophomore guard Vinny DeLucia (Miami, Fla.) put-up a jumper that would have given the Beacons the lead, however his shot would just miss mark bouncing high off the iron junior Dontreal Thomas (New Orleans, La.) tipped the ball into the basket to lead UMass Boston (8-5) to a 72-71 non-conference win Thursday evening in the Clark Athletic Center Gym. 

Thomas, who came off the bench for UMB in the final minute of play capped off one of the most clutch team performances season this season.  Sparking what would become a tremendous comeback was an 8-0 run, which started at the 2:24 mark.  UMB erased the Bears (6-7) seven point led with a dunk from Rahshjeem Benson (Boston, Mass.), and a 3-pointer from DeLucia and Yusuke Fukata (Osaka, Japan). 

Following the three from Fukata which put the score at 71-70 in favor of the Bears, Bridgewater State would drive to the basket in hopes of making it a 3-point game.  However, Benson who was un-fire all night on the defensive side of the court drew the charge from Bridgewater's Anthony Fortes giving the Beacons the ball back with 45 seconds left on the clock.  UMB would get extremely lucky on the ensuing possession as a nearly costly turnover almost ended in catastrophe.

Luckily UMass was able to get the ball back following a missed free throw by the Bears.  Josh Mojica (Loiza, Puerto Rico) pulled down perhaps the biggest board of his career and brought the ball up the court.  Looking like he might lose control of it, head coach Charlie Titus called the Beacons final timeout.  After two more timeouts from the Bears bench both teams returned to the hardwood, looking for that huge basket.

 

The Beacons rush the floor just seconds after
Thomas tipped in the game-winning basket
(photo by Tori Pizzuto '14)

UMB wasted little time finding DeLucia who threw-up the ball the second it touched his fingertips.  With the shot falling short, Bridgewater began to look to the other side of the floor as time was getting set to expire, but Thomas had another idea on how Thursday's contest was going to end as the 6'6" forward redirected the falling ball back into the hoop for the two points.

Bridgewater immediately went to the Hail Mary pass to try and tie the score, but the throw was too far, securing the Beacons non-conference victory.

Benson's heads-up play in the final minute was only part of the juniors big night as he finished with a team-best 14 points and five blocks. On the glass he finished second with eight boards, while sophomore Brian Clarke (Miramar, Fla.) led the game with 11 rebounds.  The big-man also dropped in nine points.  DeLucia closed out the night with 12 points and six assists. 

For the Bears four of their starting five finished in double-figures, with Fortes leading his squad with 15 points.  Michael Lofton recorded a team-best nine rebounds and also finished with 10 points.  Shawn Yard dropped in 13 and Kyle Gibson finished with 12.

In what is quickly becoming the Beacons M.O. they once again outshot their opponent in the second half.  Over the final 20 minutes, UMB shot an impressive 50.0% (16-for-22).  They would end the night shooting 43.9% (29-for-66) from the field and were 5-for-18 from behind the arc.  Bridgewater shot 46.6% (27-for-58) in Thursday's non-conference loss.

UMB also won the rebounding battle as they finished with nine more boards than the Bears (41-32). 

Men's Basketball returns to action on Saturday when they host Eastern Connecticut State University at 3 p.m.