WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team shot 50 percent from the floor in a 50-point first half that resulted in a 25-point halftime lead in posting its 41st straight Little East Conference regular-season home win, 90-53, over the University of Southern Maine Thursday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Eastern (11-3, 5-1 LEC), the five-time defending LEC regular-season champion, maintains a share of first place in the conference with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which defeating visiting Western Connecticut, 80-75, Thursday. Southern Maine (4-9, 2-4 LEC) falls into a three-way tie for sixth place in the nine-team conference.
Leading by three, Eastern put the game away early by outscoring the Huskies 22-4 over five minutes to move in front, 30-9, midway through the half. Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) ignited the decisive 22-4 run by scoring the first eight points on three consecutive free throws, a jump and three-point field goal, with freshman Seth Thomas (Norwich) sinking a pair of three-pointers, Senior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) converting a conventional three-point play and later a pair of free throws, and sophomore guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) hitting a jumper and sinking the resultant free throw. Junior Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) had both of his steals in that stretch.
In the first half, Eastern splashed seven of 17 three-point field goals, was 15-of-19 from the stripe and forced nine turnovers which resulted in a +10 differential in points off miscues in the half. In the half, Collagan collected 23 points on 6-of-7 field goal shooting, 4-of-5 marksmanship from distance, and 7-of-7 free throw accuracy.
Collagan led four double-figure players with 25 points in helping the Warriors defeat USM for the 20th time in the last 22 contests. Hyatt had a career-high 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the floor and 3-of-4 free-throw shooting. He also had five rebounds. Muckle finished with 14 points (6-of-6 FT) and Thomas ten points and seven rebounds.
Jayvon Pitts-Young led USM withi 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. And Christian McCue added 16 points.
All 14 players saw time for Eastern, helping the Warriors to a 20-5 advantage in bench points.
Eastern hosts Keene State College Saturday at 3 p.m. in a conference game. The teams have met in the LEC title game the last two years at Geissler Gym, Eastern winning both times.