BOSTON, Mass. – Led by a dominant performance from junior center Rahshjeem Benson (Boston, Mass.) men's basketball defeated Suffolk University by the final score of 92-78 Thursday evening in the Clark Athletic Center Gymnasium. Benson posted 31 points and 19 rebounds to push UMass Boston to 4-2 on the year as well as giving them their first 3-game win streak since the 2005-06 season.
From the field the giant center was 14-for-19 and 3-for-8 at the line. On the glass 13 of his game-best 19 boards came on the defensive side. Dangerous from everywhere on the hardwood, the Boston native handed out four assists and had four blocks and four steals in 36 minutes of action.
The 30+ points marked the second straight year that a Beacons player has hit that mark against the Rams. Last season, Isaac Jenkins '12 recorded 39 points against Suffolk in the 100-98 overtime victory.
As a team, UMass was solid from start to finish shooting 54.9% on the night on 39-of-71 shooting. They also held a +15 advantage on the glass (46-31) and absolutely dominated the paint on both sides of the court scoring 62 of the team's 92 points, while also coming up with 28 defensive rebounds and eight blocks.
Behind Benson in Thursday's strong win was sophomore forward Brian Clarke (Miramar, Fla.) who finished with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Carl Joseph (Brockton, Mass.) totaled 15 points, five boards, and three blocks and was a solid 5-of-6 at the line.
For the Rams (1-3) four of their starting five finished in double-figures, with Caleb Unni recording a team-best 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, which included three 3-pointers and 4-of-6 shooting at the line. Matt Pepdjonovic led the Rams on the glass with nine boards and finished third on the team in scoring with 15. He also fueled the Rams defense at the basket with his team-best three blocks.
The first 20 minutes of Thursday's non-conference game was a close affair as UMass never held more than a seven point lead. Midway through the opening half freshman forward Jahleel Moise (Brockton, Mass.) gave the Beacons their largest lead at the time on a huge dunk, which put UMB up 19-13. The Beacons would consistently hold-off any run by the Rams and eventually closed out the first half with a 7-2 run, to go into the locker room with a 44-37 lead on the scoreboard. Dropping in final basket of the half was Vinny DeLucia (Miami, Fla.) with less than four seconds remaining.
After the break, the Beacons began to quickly distance themselves from Suffolk. With a jumper by Benson in the first three minutes UMass pushed their lead to double-figures for the first time all night. Benson would continue to drive the Beacons in the second half as he dropped in 22 of his 31 points in the final 20 minutes of play. He would also collect 12 of his 19 boards as well.
The closest Suffolk would come to getting back into the contest came with just over six minutes left in regulation, when Colin Halpin made it a 7-point (72-65) affair on a jumper. However that late rally did not last very long as UMB quickly pushed their lead back to double digits with baskets from Joseph, Yusuke Fukata (Osaka, Japan), and of course Benson.
Men's Basketball returns to action this Saturday when they travel to Western Connecticut State University for a 3 p.m. Little East Conference game.