DANBURY, Conn.—UMass Boston (5-2, 1-0 Little East Conference) used a huge advantage at the free-throw line and double-digit points from three players to earn a 71-64 Little East Conference opening win over Western Connecticut State (0-5, 0-1 LEC) Saturday afternoon at the Feldman Arena.
After earning their first three-game winning streak since 2006 Thursday night, the Beacons kept the momentum going behind a team-high 14 points from Carl Joseph (Brockton, Mass.). Joseph finished 4-for-8 and knocked down five of six of his free throw attempts. He was joined in double-figures by fellow sophomores Brian Clarke (Miramar, Fla.) and Vinny DeLucia (Miami, Fla.) who scored 13 and 10 points respectively.
While the two teams were virtually even in every statistical category, the Beacons took the two team's Little East Conference season opener behind their dominance inside.
The Beacons used their superior size to outscore the Colonials 16-4 in the paint and forced a parade to the free throw line. Despite only hitting 60.6 percent of their attempts, UMB knocked down 20 shots from the charity stripe, compared to five, on 10 attempts, for the Colonials.
Junior Rahshjeem Benson (Boston, Mass.) finished with nine points, eight rebounds and four assists, while sophomore guard Joshua Mojica (Loiza, Puerto Rico) added nine points, four rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.
Jahleel Moise (Brockton, Mass.) chipped in with six points off the bench for the Beacons.
The Beacons roared out to a 10-3 lead four minutes into the contest behind four points each from Joseph and Clarke. Western Connecticut responded with a 20-10 run over the next nine minutes, as the Colonials knocked down four of their seven 3-pointers of the day.
Trailing by a score of 23-20 with 7:39 to go, the Beacons went to work. UMass Boston scored nine straight points to grab a lead they would never relinquish behind five points from DeLucia, and two free throws each from Mike Mitchell Jr. (Dorchester, Mass.) and Joseph.
The Beacons would grab their largest of the lead of the game at 11 at halftime, behind five points from Mojica over the final 41 seconds.
Western Connecticut State would quickly cut into the deficit to start the second stanza with a 14-6 run to start the second half behind two 3-pointers from Phil Starks. Starks finished with a game-high 17 points on five 3-pointers for the Colonials.
UMass Boston answered the Colonials run with three straight free throws from Moise and a jumper from Clarke to push the lead back to 50-43 with 13:43 to play. While the Colonials would cut the deficit to as few as four on three separate occasions over the next three minutes, the Beacons lead was never seriously threatened.
The Beacons held Western Connecticut to just four made field goals over the final 10 minutes and knocked down nine free throws in the same span, to hold on for their first win in an LEC opener since the 2009-10 season.
For the game, UMass Boston held a 43-35 advantage in rebounds including 14 offensive boards. The Beacons hit 43.4 percent (25-53) of their field goal attempts and 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) of their 3-pointers, while Western finished shooting 40.0 percent (26-65) from the floor and 7-of-20 (35 percent) from behind the arc.
UMass Boston will stay on the road Tuesday when they face nationally-ranked MIT at 8 p.m. in Cambridge.