Sanchez' Game-Winning Shot Stuns First-Place Corsairs

Sanchez' Game-Winning Shot Stuns First-Place Corsairs

DARTMOUTH, Mass.—Freshman Alex Sanchez' (Salem, Mass.) go-ahead, game-winning 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining lifted UMass Boston men's basketball past rival UMass Dartmouth 78-77 Wednesday night at the Tripp Athletic Center.

THE BASICS

UMass Boston 78, UMass Dartmouth 77

(UMass Boston 13-11, Little East 6-7)

(UMass Dartmouth 16-8, Little East 9-4)

HOW IT HAPPENED

After leading by as many as 13 early in the second half, UMass Boston found themselves trailing by two with 27 seconds left, against one of the three teams tied for the Little East Conference lead.

Fellow freshman Ty Lee (Boston, Mass.) calmly drained the clock down to 10 seconds, before driving to the top of the key and finding a wide-open Sanchez in front of the Beacons' bench. Sanchez glided the ball off the inside of the front of the rim to give the Beacons a 78-77 lead. On the final possession of the game, Jon Robinson's floater caromed off the back of the rim and into the hands of Careem Kirksey (Dorchester, Mass.), as the Beacons avenged a 27-point home loss to the Corsairs two weeks ago.

Sanchez finished tied for the team-high with 15 points in just 16 minutes of action. The freshman shot an efficient 5-of-6, including hitting 2-of-3 shots from distance.

Senior Dan Powers (Westwood, Mass.) put together another key double-double. The senior forward recorded 15 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals in a team-high 37 minutes of action.

Lee added 11 points and a game-high seven assists. Senior Sam Freeman (Boston, Mass.) tacked on 12 points before fouling out, while freshman Dasan Cinelli (Boston, Mass.) tied his career-high with eight rebounds, to go along with his nine points.

Tucker Bouchard and Nick Portelance paced the way for the hosts with 19 and 18 points respectively. Portelance added 11 rebounds in 21 minutes of action off the bench.

Mert Sert was the final UMass Dartmouth player to have a big game, as the freshman finished with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals.

UMass Boston used a total team effort in the contest, as they won the rebounding battle against the much taller Corsairs and also had their best shooting game in their last dozen contests.

The Beacons jumped out to a 6-2 lead and trailed for just 21 seconds in the entire first half. After an Abi Akanni 3-pointer gave the Corsairs their first lead at 11-10, Freeman answered back with back-to-back baskets to make it 14-11 Beacons.

That would be just the beginning for UMass Boston, as they would push the lead out to as many as eight late in the half. Joshua Imadiyi hit a jumper for the Corsairs to cut the Beacons' lead to 39-33 at the end of the first half.

UMass Boston would extend the lead to 12 on three occasions early in the second half. Kirksey and Powers combined for a 6-0 run to make it 47-35 and then Lee and Powers teamed up for a 5-0 flurry to push the advantage back to 52-39 with 15:16 to play. UMass Boston made it a dozen-point lead one final time with 14 minutes left on a Freeman jumper.

UMass Dartmouth raced back into the game with a 12-1 flurry over a 3:56 span. Portelance tied the game at 61-61 with 7:49 left, in what would be the first of eight second-half ties.

The Corsairs grabbed their largest lead of the game at 72-69 with 3:02 to play, when Akanni hit a go-ahead layup and Sert knocked down one of two free throws. 

UMass Boston answered right back with a 6-1 run. Kirksey hit a free throw, Sanchez completed an and-one play and Powers hit a go-ahead layup to make it 75-73 with 1:25 left.

The hosts had one final response left, as Portelance tied the game at 75 with a layup and then after a missed Beacons layup, Akanni hit a layup with 27 seconds left to set up Sanchez' game-winning shot.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • With the win, UMass Boston snapped a four-game losing streak against the Corsairs. The Beacons improved to 8-49 all-time against the Corsairs and earned their first win against their rivals under second-year head coach Jason Harris.
  • UMass Boston posted their second-best, field-goal percentage of the season with a 54.2 percent (32-of-59) mark. UMass Boston also hit 4-of-9 threes (44.4 percent) and connected on 76.9 percent (10-of-13) of their free throws.
  • The Beacons earned a 36-35 edge on the boards and an 8-6 edge in fast break points.
  • With the victory, UMass Boston ensured that they will finish either fourth or fifth in the Little East Conference. The Beacons haven't finished in the top-five since the 2012-13 season when they ended the year fifth.

WHO'S NEXT 

UMass Boston will close out the regular season on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Eastern Connecticut State University.