Top 12 of 2012: #8 Men's Basketball Crowned Harbor Invitational Champs (11/24)
This is the fifth in our Top 12 of 2012 series. Every day for the rest of 2012, we will count down the Top 12 moments/games of the year with each program represented. With two Little East Conference Champions, a handful of wins against nationally ranked teams and several program firsts-2012 was quite the year.
The Harbor Invitational Tournament is one of the mainstays on the UMass Boston Athletics Calendar. Running for 28 consecutive years, the tournament has brought some of the top talent in New England to the Clark Athletic Gymnasium the weekend after Thanksgiving to take part in a two-day basketball fest.
But for each of the past six years, the Beacons men's basketball team has had to watch another school's squad come to Boston and hoist the crown. That streak ended just a few weeks ago-as the Beacons earned their first of several huge wins to begin the 2012-13 season.
UMass Boston entered the championship game 2-2 after a demolishing the University of New England 72-30. On the other side, the Trinity College (CT) Bantams owned a 2-2 record as well, but also owned the title of two-time defending champions of the tournament.
The two sides went back and forth over the first 16 minutes with the Beacons clinging to a slim 30-28 lead. Just when it looked as if the Bantams might threaten the home team and earn a three-peat, the Beacons went on a massive run to propel themselves to a lead they would never relinquish.
Over the final 3:44 of the first half, UMass Boston outscored the Bantams 15-6, including a 10-1 streak that pushed the Beacons lead to double-digits. Sophomores Vinny DeLucia (Miami, Fla.) and Cody Edmond (Plaquemine, La.) each drilled threes, while Tournament Most Valuable Player Mike Mitchell Jr. (Dorchester, Mass.) added two free throws.
The Beacons kept the momentum going out of the break, extending the lead to as many as 19, when sophomore Brian Clarker (Miramar, Fla.) forced a steal at center court and sent the fans into a frenzy with a one-hand slam. UMass Boston waltzed to a 76-60 victory with the team's second-unit seeing extended action for the second-straight night.
After the game, Mitchell hoisted the trophy and was swarmed by as his teammates as the Beacons put an exclamation point on the opening weekend of the newly renovated Clark Athletic Gymnasium. Junior Rahshjeem Benson (Boston, Mass.) and DeLucia joined Mitchell on the All-Tournament Team.
The Beacons followed up the tournament title with two more wins to earn their first four-game winning streak since 2005-the last year they had won the Harbor Invitational. UMass Boston hopes they can continue to recreate the success of that season, as the 2005-06 Beacons squad earned the program's first ever Little East Conference Championship Title.