BOSTON – Five players contributed points when the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team outscored the University of Massachusetts Boston 2-to-1 over the first 12 minutes of the second half to stretch a 13-point lead to 27 in a 79-54 Little East Conference victory Wednesday night at Clark Athletic Center.
The win is the eighth in the last nine games for Eastern (16-4, 10-1 LEC), which maintains a 1 ½ lead in the conference with five conference regular-season games remaining. The five-time defending LEC regular-season and two-time defending LEC tournament champions have reached double-digit LEC regular-season wins for the ninth straight season.
Eastern, 6-1 on its opponent's court this year, has won 23 straight against UMass (10-10, 5-7 LEC), which had won four of five LEC regular-season home games entering play.
Freshman forward Seth Thomas (Norwich) had his second straight double-double with 20 points and a game-high ten rebounds, and junior guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) had eight points and a season-high ten assists.
Eastern outrebounded UMB 41-30 and shot 51.6 percent from the floor, outscoring
the hosts by 18 points from three-point range. The Beacons shot just under 40 percent from the floor and missed ten of 19 free throws.
Eastern broke an early tie by scoring ten straight points – senior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) converting a conventional three-point play to ignite the run and sophomore guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) contributing the final five in the run with a fastbreak layup and three-pointer – en route to a 13-point halftime lead.
A lead that would eventually crest at 30 reached 20 nine minutes into the second half when Gonzalez faked a three-point attempt and found Thomas alone for a layup and ensuing free throw, and Nunez converted a rare four-point play by swishing the free throw after draining a corner three-point field goal in transition.
Later in the 29-15 scoring run, junior forward Jake McCarthy (Berlin) came off the bench to score six points in less than a minute on an offensive rebound and two additional hoops set up on passes from Gonzalez. Nunez' three-point bomb a minute later pushed the lead to 27, 68-41, with eight minutes left.
Eastern hosts UMass Dartmouth Saturday at 3 p.m. The Warriors lead the Corsairs by 2 ½ games in the standings.