Feb. 5, 2011
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Junior guard Nick Nedwick (Irvington, NY) scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and sophomore center Chris Robitaille (Canton) came off the bench to equal his career high of ten rebounds as the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team kept pace in the Little East Conference with a 75-63 victory over the University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Leading by only two at halftime, Eastern (14-6, 7-3 little east) outscored UMass (8-13, 2-8 little east) by ten in the second half, shooting 56.7 percent over the final 20 minutes from the floor and holding UMass to 33.3 percent shooting.
By sweeping UMass in the regular-season series, Eastern maintains a share of second place in the conference, two games behind leader Western Connecticut. The Warriors share second place with defending conference champion Rhode Island College, while Keene State fell into fourth place following a 78-69 home loss to RIC. The top two teams in the final standings earn a first-round tournament bye, with the third and fourth -place finishers hosting a first-round game.
A winner of seven of its last eight against UMass, Eastern never trailed in the second half, finally breaking free from a tight game with a burst of nine straight points in a span of less than three minutes to pull away to an 11-point, 52-41 advantage seven minutes into the second half. Nedwick began the run with a three-point field goal and Robitaille, senior forward Bill Roveto (South Windsor) and junior guard Jamie Kohn (Columbia) combined for the other six points. Roveto also contributed a steal and an offensive rebound which set up a pair of his own free throws. The Beacons turned the ball over three times in that critical stretch and each cost the visitors points.
The Warriors played catch-up throughout the first half , trailing by nine eight minutes into the game on a three-pointer by junior guard Isaac Jenkins (Pordenone, Italy). Down by six with just under four minutes to go in the first half, the Warriors re-gained the momentum by scoring eight points in a row to move out to their first lead, 31-29, with 1:20 left in the first half. Senior center Broderick Sawyer (Norwalk) scored four of his eight first-half points on consecutive trips down the floor to tie the game, and sophomore point guard Joe Ives (Avon) converted his only basket of the half off a steal by freshman guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and pass from Sawyer.
In addition to Robitaille's ten rebounds (and two blocks), the Warriors got valuable off-the-bench support from sophomore guard Mike Garrow (Terryville), junior forward Hamilton Levy (Woodbury) and freshman point guard Justin Nunez (Hartford). Garrow had eight points and three rebounds in 13 minutes and Levy four points and four rebounds in 12 minutes. In a career-high 23 minutes in relief of Ives, Nunez played tight defense, grabbed three rebounds and turned the ball over only once.
Sawyer was 8-of-12 from the floor for Eastern in the game and had 16 points and Nedwick, who also handed out five assists, moved to within 12 points of 1,000 in his three-year career. He entered the game ranked third in the LEC with an 18.4 scoring average.
A loser of three straight, UMass was led by Jenkins' 13 points, with freshman guard Paul Anderson (Cambridge, MA) adding 12 points, freshman center Mbara Cisse (Miami, FL) 11, and sophomore guard Michael Mitchell (Boston) ten poinits and six assists. Ranked second in the LEC in rebounding to Kohn, senior forward Pat Joseph (Queens, NY) matched Robitaille with ten rebounds.
Eastern hosts Keene State College Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. while UMass Boston hosts UMass Dartmouth the same night in a 7:30 p.m. tilt.
*Release courtesy of ECSU Sports Information Dept.