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Both RIC Basketball Teams Beat Keene in Final Games; Men’s Team Clinches Title

Tahrike Carter

Tahrike Carter

KEENE, N.H. – Senior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) scored a game-high 18 points and pulled in nine rebounds as Rhode Island College’s men’s basketball team closed out the regular season in an 86-64 win over rival Keene State in Little East Conference men’s basketball action played at Spaulding Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

With the victory, Rhode Island College (22-3, 13-1 LEC) clinched the outright 2013 Little East Conference Regular Season Championship and secured home court advantage throughout the upcoming 2013 Little East Tournament.

It is the sixth regular season title for the Anchormen in the past nine seasons (2013, ’11, ’10, ’09, ’07, ’05) and the fifth under head coach Bob Walsh.

RIC is the top seed in the Little East Tournament and will host eighth-seeded UMass Dartmouth at The Murray Center on Tuesday, Feb. 19 (7 p.m.) in first-round action.

Five Anchormen scored in double figures in the victory. Junior guard Nyheem Sanders (Pawtucket, RI) equaled Carter’s effort with 18 points. Senior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) chipped in with 12 points and four rebounds. Junior guard Tom DeCiantis (North Kingstown, RI) contributed 10 points, seven boards and three steals. Sophomore forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) posted 11 points.

The Owls (14-9, 8-4 LEC) were led by senior guard Ryan Martin (Wayne, ME) with 16 points and three assists. Classmate forward Rashad Wright (Agawam, MA) registered 14 points and five rebounds, while senior guard Anthony Mariano (Naugatuck, CT) recorded 11 points and five rebounds.

“The kids were flat out terrific today,” Walsh said. “We were tough, composed and together and played a complete 40 minutes. This group deserves the Little East title. We earned it and I’m extremely proud.”

Rhode Island College took an early, five-point, 7-2, lead on a Roberts layup at 15:54. The hosts countered with a 7-2 run of their own to tie the game, 9-9, on a Martin jumper with 12:45 remaining.

Keene took its first lead, 12-11, on a Mariano trey at 10:04 and then led by three, 17-14, on a junior center Montel Walcott (New Haven, CT) free throw at 7:54. Two minutes later, junior guard Michael Palumbo (Providence, RI) canned a long ball to put the visitors up by one, 22-21. After Keene tied the game, 26-26, with just over four minutes left in the first frame, the Anchormen rattled off the next five, capped by a DeCiantis three, and eventually went into halftime up by six, 36-30.

RIC took control of the game at the start of the second and never looked back. The Anchormen rattled off the first 10 points of the final stanza to lead, 46-30, on a Burton free throw at 17:27. The advantage swelled to 21 points, 53-32, on a Roberts layup at 14:36.

A 14-point deficit, 63-49, on a Martin jumper at 7:52 would be the closest the Owls would get. Free throws by Carter and Roberts put RIC up by 19 with just under four minutes to play and RIC led by 20 for the rest of the contest.

The Anchormen shot 43 percent (28-for-65) from the field, 26 percent (5-for-19) from three-point land and 63 percent (25-for-40) from the free throw line. The Owls shot 47 percent (22-for-47) from the floor, 43 percent (6-for-14) from downtown and 70 percent (14-for-20) from the charity stripe.

RIC held the advantage in rebounding, 42-34, and forced 22 turnovers.

The Rhode Island College women’s basketball team also closed out its regular season with a 65-48 win over Keene State on Saturday. Senior guard Ashley O’Dell (Lincoln, RI) scored a game-high 17 points, while classmate forward Courtney Burns (Rockland, MA) dropped in 12.

RIC (15-10, 8-6 LEC) is the fifth seed in the upcoming 2013 Little East Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament and will travel to fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut on Tuesday, Feb. 19 (5:30 p.m.) in first-round action. The Anchorwomen defeated the Warriors, 46-31, on Dec. 8 at home, then lost, 55-53, in a road contest on Jan. 26.

In the win over the Owls (9-16, 3-11 LEC), freshman forward Vandell Andrade (Providence, RI) hauled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Megan Sewall (Portsmouth, RI) contributed eight points, five boards and two assists.

KSC senior guard Siobhan Carnell (Quincy, MA) equaled O’Dell’s effort with 17 points to go along with six rebounds. Sophomore guard Christan Wojtas (Amherst, NH) netted 11 points, while freshman guard Kelsey Cognetta (Stamford, CT) and sophomore forward Courtney Roberts (Sutton, MA) each contributed eight.

RIC ripped off the game’s first six points, capped by a junior guard Stephanie Prusko (Lincoln, RI) jumper at 17:36. The visitors went up by 12, 14-2, on a Sewall jumper at 12:08, and then by 18, 24-6, on an O’Dell jump shot with 7:32 remaining in the first half.

Keene cut the deficit to 13 points, but RIC freshman guard Danielle LeBlanc (Warwick, RI) canned a jumper to send the Anchorwomen into halftime up by 17, 32-15.

The second half proved to be a formality as Rhode Island College cruised to the win. O’Dell put RIC up by a game-high 22 points at 16:14 and the hosts would not get closer than 13 points the rest of the afternoon.

RIC shot 37 percent (22-for-59) from the field, 3-for-13 (23 percent) from three-point land and 78 percent (18-for-23) from the free throw line. The Owls shot 30 percent (17-for-56) from the field, 23 percent (3-for-13) from long range and 61 percent (11-for-18) from the charity stripe.

Keene State held a slight advantage, 48-47, in rebounding.