WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Led by Chris Robitaille's double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds, the host Warriors of Eastern Connecticut State University defeated men's basketball by the final of 74-44 Saturday afternoon at the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium in the Little East Conference regular season finale for both teams.
Eastern (18-7, 12-2 Little East) concludes the regular season on a five-game winning streak and with victories in 11 of its last 13 and with a program record for regular-season conference wins and will be the number two seed in next week's Little East Conference tournament.
For the Beacons (12-12, 6-8 Little East) they ended the regular season as the fifth seed and will visit the fourth-seeded Huskies of the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the first round contest. The Warriors will host either Plymouth State University of Western Connecticut State next Tuesday at 7:30, as they look to repeat as conference tournament champions from a year ago.
UMass, who shot 35.8% on the afternoon, only turned the ball over a combined 10 times, but the Warriors used each one of the turnovers against the Beacons on the scoreboard as they dropped in 19 points off of the miscues. The Beacons totaled only eight points off the hosts' 11 turnovers.
Leading by 13 at halftime, Eastern secured its eighth straight win over UMass Boston when Trachone Preston and Brian Salzillo connected on three-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half as the Warriors quickly built a 17-point lead. UMass never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.
Vinny DeLucia (Miami, Fla.) was the only double-figure scorer for UMB, with 14 points. DeLucia had led the Beacons to a near-upset of Eastern on Jan. 12 when he shared game-high scoring honors with 23 points in his team's three-point loss. Brian Clarke (Miramar, Fla.) contributed seven points and seven rebounds for the Beacons.
Salzillo, Robitaille and Preston combined for 45 of Eastern's points (18-for-35 field goal shooting). Salzillo led all players with 16 – extending his three-point streak to 30 games with his first of four from long range with 8:32 left in the first half. He also finished with a career-best seven assists and had six rebounds. Preston finished with 14 points.
Men's Basketball returns to action on Tuesday when they travel to the University of Southern Maine for a 7:30 first round game of the 2013 Little East Conference tournament. The Beacons will be making their first postseason appearance since 2010.
Information for this release was provided by the Eastern Connecticut State University Sports Information Department.