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RIC Anchormen Clinch Share of Little East Regular Season Championship

Junior guard Tom DeCiantis scored 18 points in win over Western Connecticut

Junior guard Tom DeCiantis scored 18 points in win over Western Connecticut

DANBURY, CONN. – Junior guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) scored 18 points to lead Rhode Island College to a 69-60 win over Western Connecticut in Little East Conference men’s basketball action played at Feldman Arena on Wednesday evening.

With the victory, Rhode Island College clinches at least a share of the 2013 Little East Conference regular season hhampionship with one game remaining. It is the sixth regular season title for the Anchormen (21-3, 12-1 LEC) in the past nine seasons (2011, ’10, ’09, ’07, ’05) and the fifth under head coach Bob Walsh.

RIC can clinch the outright championship and secure home court advantage throughout the upcoming 2013 Little East Conference Tournament, with a win at Keene State on Saturday, Feb. 16 (3 p.m.) or if UMass Boston defeats second place Eastern Connecticut on the same day.

DeCiantis canned five three-pointers to go along with four rebounds, four assists and a steal. Sophomore forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) posted a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. Senior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) pitched in with 10 points and five rebounds, while junior guard Nyheem Sanders (Pawtucket, RI) finished with 10 points as well.

Western Connecticut (5-19, 3-10 LEC) led by as many as nine points in the second half, but could not close out the Anchormen down the stretch. Senior Leroy Mayers (Bronx, NY) led the Western offense with 14 points, followed by freshman Phil Starks (Bloomfield, CT) with 11 points.

Rhode Island College ran out to an early 11-2 lead, by holding Western to a single layup by Mayers over the game’s first six minutes. Western then went on a 6-0 run to close the gap to 11-8, but a 9-2 run by the Anchormen put RIC up 20-10 with eight minutes to play in the half. 

Rhode Island College still held a 10-point lead, 25-15, with six minutes to play, before the Colonials went on a 9-2 run, capped by a jumper by sophomore Luis Bridtter (Stamford, CT), to make the score 27-24 with three minutes left in the first period. Each team only managed one more basket before the half, giving Rhode Island College a 29-26 lead at intermission.

Starks started the second half by scoring with a layup in the first minute and then gave the Colonials their first lead of the game with a three-pointer to make the score 37-35 after four minutes had been played. Another Starks three completed a 12-point run by Western, pushing the Colonial lead to 44-35 with 13:31 remaining.  Western then went scoreless over the next six minutes, watching Rhode Island College narrow the gap to three points, 44-41. 

A three-pointer from junior Joseph Setaro (North Haven, CT) pushed the Western lead back to six points, but a 10-3 run by RIC over the next three minutes put the visitors back in front 51-50 after a DeCiantis layup. A three-pointer by Sanders on the Anchormen’s next possession stretched the lead to four points, and Rhode Island College never relinquished the lead. Western trailed 63-59 with 42 seconds to play, but RIC was solid from the free throw line in the closing seconds to secure the 69-60 victory.

RIC shot 40 percent (23-for-58) from the field, 35 percent (8-for-23) from downtown and 68 percent (15-for-22) from the free throw line. WCSU shot 35 percent (18-for-51) from the field, 32 percent (7-for-22) from three-point range and 81 percent (17-for-21) from the free throw line.

The Anchormen held a slight advantage in rebounding, 39-35.

In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will wrap up the regular season at Keene State on Saturday, Feb. 16 (3 p.m.).