Senior forward Mason Choice and classmate center Mike Akinrola combined for 45 points, as the Rhode Island College men’s basketball team defeated the University of Southern Maine 77-65 last Saturday.
Choice scored a team-high 23 points, going 10-for-16 from the field, while Akinrola finished with 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Both senior standouts also finished with eight rebounds in the victory. Junior guard Ethan Gaye added nine points, while classmate guard Tahrike Carter chipped in with seven points and nine assists.
Southern Maine sophomore guard Brandon Tomah headlined a pack of four Huskies in double figures with a team-high 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Senior forward Jeremy Jackson added 15 points and a game-high nine rebounds while junior guard Alex Kee and sophomore guard Conor Sullivan scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
With the victory, the Anchormen improved to 18-5 overall and 8-4 in the Little East Conference this season. RIC remains in sole possession of fourth place in the conference with two regular season games left to play. With the loss, Southern Maine fell to 10-12 overall and just 3-9 in conference play this season.
RIC held a commanding 20-point lead, 56-36, over Southern Maine with just under 16 minutes remaining in the contest, before the Huskies, led by a 13-point outburst from Tomah (5-for-5 from the field including a pair of 3-pointers) battled back with a 22-8 run over the next 10-minutes to pull within four points, 62-58, with 5:42 remaining.
In the final five minutes, it was free throw shooting, an area of weakness for the club coming into the contest, which allowed the Anchormen to hang on for the victory. The Anchormen, who are shooting just 66% from the charity stripe as a team this season, knocked down 9-of-12 attempts in the final minutes to hang on for the 77-65 victory.
RIC will be back in action when they host LEC rival Western Connecticut State University (19-4, 9-3 LEC) in the Murray Center on Tuesday, Feb. 20. With a victory, the Anchormen will pull into a three-way tie for second place in the conference with both Western Connecticut State and Eastern Connecticut State University (18-5, 9-3 LEC).
A loss to the Colonials means that the Anchormen can finish no higher than third-place in the conference standings no matter what happens on Saturday, Feb. 18 against first place Keene State College. A loss to the Colonials also means that the Anchormen will not receive a first-round bye in the upcoming LEC Tournament, which is slated to begin on Feb. 21.