DANBURY, Conn. - Despite a late second half surge men's basketball (6-19, 0-4 Little East) was unable to pullout the victory as they were handed an 86-82 Little East Conference loss by Western Connecticut State University (16-8, 8-6 Little East) Saturday afternoon at Feldman Arena.
The loss marks the fourth straight game that UMass Boston was defeated by 10 or fewer points as they overcame a double-figure deficit to come within four before the final horn sounded. UMass Boston will enter next week's conference tournament as the eighth seed and will travel to Willimantic, Connecticut to take on the top-seeded Warriors of Eastern Connecticut State University, who just completed a perfect 14-0 conference schedule, to become the first team ever in the history of the Little East Conference to achieve that mark. The first round game will be played on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Western Connecticut State University who is the fourth seed in this year's tournament will host the fifth seeded Panthers of Plymouth State University on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Feldman Arena.
For the Beacons senior Kadeem Coulter (Boston, Mass.) put together the best performance of his college career as the big-man finished with a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds. The 6'9" senior led UMass Boston's inside game as they scored 56 of their 82 points in the paint. From the field the Boston native was 8-for-15 and 4-for-5 at the line. Of his 12 boards, five came on the offensive glass. Defensively he handed out a career-best seven blocked shots, which ties the program record for most blocks in a single game.
Junior Carl Joseph (Brockton, Mass.) ended an impressive regular season with 13 points and eight boards, while off the bench Sam Freeman (Boston, Mass.) and Nick Guerriero (Naples, Fla.) recorded 12 and 11 points respectively. Guerriero, who was red hot in Tuesday's loss to Southern Maine, set a new career best points mark as he went 5-for-7 from the floor and 1-for-1 at the line.
Western Connecticut was led by Kendall Marquez and Ronnie Underwood. The duo combined for 43 points respectively and were 17-for-30 from the field. Claudy Casseus finished with a team-best 11 rebounds, while Joseph Setaro grabbed six boards of his own while also finishing with five points.
After a sluggish first half, which saw Western Connecticut leading 44-35 going into the halftime break, the Beacons came out firing in the second. The two teams battled back-and-forth throughout the final 20 minutes of play, but it was a 16-6 run in the final six minutes and 25 seconds of play that UMass Boston found itself right on the edge of taking their first lead of the contest since the start of Saturday's contest. Coulter and Joseph were the driving force behind the Beacons late run, along with a key lay-up by Quadry Allen (White Castle, La.) which at the time made it a five-point affair.
Trailing by two following a Joseph free throw and with 1:18 left on the clock the Colonials scored five straight points to push their lead to seven (85-78). Guerriero made it a two possession game on a jumper with eight seconds left in the contest. Marquez sealed the victory for WCSU with a jumper to make it a six-point deficit, but just as time expired Sam Freeman scored a lay-up to make it 86-82.
UMass Boston led the contest on the glass with a +4 advantage (43-39) and shot 45.2% (33-73) from the field. WCSU finished shooting 46.9% (30-19) from the field and 36.8% from behind the arc (7-19).
The Beacons will be making their second straight appearance in the Little East Conference tournament on Tuesday as they look to pull off the upset of the year.