Providence, R.I.-Senior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) finished
with a career-high 22 points as the Rhode Island College men's
basketball team fell to Eastern Connecticut, 76-68, in Little East
Conference action on Saturday afternoon at The Murray Center.
"Eastern Connecticut played with an intensity edge that we just couldn't match," RIC Head Coach Bob Walsh said. "Give them credit. They were prepared for the level you need to play at to win Little East games and we were not."
Eastern jumped out to a 10-4 lead at the 16:19 mark of the first half, capped by a three-pointer from freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield, CT). The Warriors built on the momentum by outscoring the hosts, 10-6 over the next 3:30 to increase their advantage to 20-10 with 12:49 remaining.
With RIC down by seven points, 24-17, at 7:24, senior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) started the Anchormen on the comeback trail with a layup that keyed an 8-0 run. Back-to-back three-pointers by junior guard Mike Palumbo (Providence, RI) gave the Anchormen a 28-24 lead at 4:38.
Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon, CT) drained a clutch longball, which was followed by a senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton, CT) layup and a free throw by sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford, CT) to put the Warriors up by a pair, 32-30, at 2:00. Free throws by RIC senior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) briefly tied the game, but Ives made a pair from the charity stripe with four seconds left to send the visitors into the half up by two, 34-32.
The Warriors shot 67 percent (12-for-18) from the field in the first half, keyed by 12 points from Ives. RIC shot 38 percent (12-for-32) and were led by Carter's 10 points.
Eastern came out in the second half and rattled off an 8-0 run to build a 40-32 lead two minutes into the final frame. The Anchormen chipped away at their deficit to climb within five points, 42-37, at 14:38. Eastern stormed back with a 9-2 surge, keyed by five points by junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville, CT) , to go up by 12, 51-39, with 10:20 left.
Trailing by double figures, the Anchormen managed to cut the deficit to seven points on several occasions down the stretch, but seemingly could not pull any closer. With 2:30 on the clock, sophomore forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) buried a three-pointer to make it, 64-60. After a steal by Roberts on the ensuing inbound, Burton knocked down a layup with just 2:13 left to play to cut the deficit to just two.
However, after Robitaille hit one of two free throws for the Warriors to make it a three-point game, Yarborough was fouled while converting a clutch layup with just 1:17 on the clock. His three-point play gave Eastern Connecticut a 68-62 lead and essentially sealed the victory for the Warriors, as the Anchormen couldn't muster a comeback in the final minute of the game, despite pulling within five points on two separate occasions.
Eastern Connecticut shot 55 percent (22-for-40) from the floor, 56 percent (5-for-6) from downtown and 79 percent (27-for-34) from the free throw line. Rhode Island College shot just 40 percent (27-for-68) from the field, 30 percent (6-for-20) from downtown and 47 percent (8-for-17) from the free throw line.
Despite being outrebounded by the Warriors, 34-32, the Anchormen corralled 15 rebounds as a team. Carter led the hosts with a team-high eight board, including four offensive boards, to go along with four assists and two steals.
Rhode Island College also forced 25 turnovers, while committing just 13 turnovers on the offensive end. Burton finished with a game-high six steals and also added 17 points and four boards for the Anchormen. Roberts chipped in with 12 points, seven boards, four assists and two steals, while Palumbo finished with nine points off the bench.
Garrow led the Warriors with 22 points and five rebounds, while Ives tallied 14 points and six boards and Preston totaled 14 points, three assists and two steals. Yarborough contributed with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds to go along with two blocks and two steals, while Robitaille dished out a team-high five assists to go along with seven points and six boards.
In upcoming action, Rhode Island College will travel to Johnson & Wales on Wednesday, Dec. 19 (7:30 p.m.)