WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team scored 15 straight points after the University of Massachusetts Boston scored the game's initial buck and the Warriors went on to their 39th straight Little East Conference regular-season home win, a tougher-than-it looks 82-59 decision Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Five-time defending LEC regular-season champion Eastern (5-1, 2-0 LEC) moved out to a double-digit lead four minutes into the game and the advantage fell into single digits only twice thereafter, the last time with seven minutes left in the first half. The win was the 22nd in a row for Eastern over UMass in the series.
Leading by 15 at halftime, Eastern pushed the lead to 18 six minutes into the second half before UMass Boston (4-2, 0-2 LEC) continued to remain in contention, getting to within 11 twice.
Poor free-throw shooting plagued UMass throughout, the Beacons never able to cut deeper into the deficit in large part to missing 14 of 26 free throws in the game. The Warriors outscored the Beacons by 12 from the stripe, nailing 24 of 37 tries and limited UMB 25 points shy of its season average. The game was marred by 49 fouls which led to 63 free-throw attempts.
After managing only five first-half points, junior guard Jake Collagan (Wethersfield) tossed in 12 in the second half, with senior guard Donny Craig (Waterford) scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in nine second-half minutes.
At left: Freshman Seth Thomas pulls up for a first-half jump shot in Saturday's Little East Conference win. Thomas had 11 points (5-of-7 from the floor) and seven rebounds. (Photo by Sara Pisanelli)
Collagan led all players with 17 points to go along with six rebounds. Sophomore guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) added 16 points, freshman forward Sharown Fowler (Springfield, MA) contributing a career-high 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench, with five rebounds. He was 6-of-8 from the foul line. Freshman forward Seth Thomas (Norwich) had 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds along with three steals and two blocks. Junior guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) had eight points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Sophomore guard Charles Mitchell came off the bench for the first time this year and led UMB with 14 points (5-of-8 FG) and added four rebounds, and freshman forward Javaris Hill had ten points and a game-high nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Michael Boyd and sophomore guard Kevin Nunez – the team's top two scorers this year -- combined for only six points and six rebounds in 47 minutes, shooting 2-of-18 from the floor with six turnovers.
Charles Mitchell fouled out with 11:39 left in the game, with Hill following less than two minutes later, and 6-foot-5 inch freshman forward Julius Goines joining his teammates on the bench with 2:10 remaining.
Eastern visits Western Connecticut Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in a conference game.