Bryant, RIC ready for post-season play
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Saturday was a big day on the local hardwood floors at Bryant and Rhode Island College, as both programs advance into post-season play.
Bryant came into their game at LIU-Brooklyn having lost four of their previous five games, but used double-figure scoring efforts from their entire starting five to beat the Blackbirds 81-62. Corey Maynard led the Bulldogs with 19 points, Shane McLaughlin and Alex Francis scored 15 points each and Joe O'Shea and Dyami Starks added 12 apiece. Francis grabbed 11 rebounds and O'Shea added 10, while Starks finished with six of the Bulldogs nine steals.
After trailing by as much as 10 in the first half, LIU-Brooklyn pulled within four at halftime, 36-32. Bryant then started strong in the second half, with defense creating turnovers to propel the Bulldogs on a 15-1 run and put them up by 16 points with 15 minutes left to play. Blackbirds' guard Jason Brickman recorded career assist number 1000 on Saturday, becoming only the fourth player in Division I history to accomplish the feat.
With the win, the Bulldogs grabbed the number 3 seed for the upcoming NEC Tournament and gained a home-court advantage for the playoff game. Bryant (18-13, 10-6 NEC) will host #6 seed Saint Francis (PA) Wednesday night at the Chace Athletic Center in Smithfield. The Bulldogs won the only meeting between the two teams during the regular season, a 77-67 victory January 9th in Smithfield.
As for Rhode Island College, the second-seeded Anchormen defeated top-seeded Eastern Connecticut 70-61 to claim the Little East Conference tournament championship in Willimantic, CT. With the win over Eastern Connecticut, RIC (20-8) advances to the NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament for the eighth consecutive season. The win also marks the second straight season and the sixth time (2014, ‘13 ’11, ’10, ’08, ’07) in the program’s history that the Anchormen have clinched the Little East Conference Tournament Championship.
The Anchormen avenged two regular season losses to the Warriors, and handed Eastern Connecticut it's first Little East loss of the season in the title game. Eric Alleyne led RIC with 19 points, Victor Smith scored 17 and junior forward Chris Burton added 12 points and five rebounds. Burton was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award, averaging 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 3.0 steals.
The Rhode Island College Anchorwomen also claimed the Little East Conference tournament title on Saturday, marking just the second time in league history that both men's and women's titles were won by the same institution in the same year. Both teams now advance into the NCAA D-III tournament.