DANBURY, CT – After a stunning victory over archrival Eastern Connecticut on Wednesday, the Western Connecticut State University men's basketball squad utilized stifling defense as they edged visiting Little East Conference nemesis UMass-Boston, 57-50, on Saturday afternoon at the O'Neill Center's Feldman Arena. Senior forward Aaron Samuel (Stratford, CT) led the Colonials with a game-high 14 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds, while junior guard Ronald Jefferson (Brooklyn, NY) added 13 points and a game-high four steals.
The hosts sank 10 more free throws while holding the visitors to just 29.8% (17-of-57) shooting for the contest. WestConn would also manage 42.9% from the field in the second half while UMass-Boston mustered just 30% in the period.
Sophomores Charlie Mitchell (Boston, MA) and Michael Boyd (Malden, MA) finished with nine points apiece to pace the Beacons. Classmate Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, MA) also pulled down a game-high 10 boards.
Things did not look good for the Colonials early on. The Beacons began the first half with a 16-2 run rounded out with a three-pointer from sophomore guard Charles Mitchell (Boston, MA).
However, WestConn chipped away at the advantage for the remainder of the stanza, slicing the lead to just 21-20 on a Samuel layup off a sweet dish from rookie guard Isaiah Hall (Plainfield, NJ) just before the break.
The hosts would earn their first lead less than a minute into the second half when Samuel knocked down an elbow jumper off a pretty kick-out from senior forward Rashard Rodriguez (Trumbull, CT), good for a 22-21 advantage.
The lead would go back-and-forth several times before the Colonials rumbled off a 10-0 run. Jefferson ignited the flurry with a pair of free throws before capping the spurt with a midcourt steal and ferocious dunk, giving the hosts a 46-36 advantage with 6:01 remaining.
The Beacons answered when junior guard Alex Sanchez (Salem, MA) connected on a three-pointer from the corner, slicing the deficit to 50-48 with 2:09 left.
However, solid shooting from the charity stripe down the stretch from Jefferson and sophomore guard Shea Tracy (New Britain, CT) would preserve the WestConn comeback.
"UMass-Boston plays with a lot of heart. Our team did a great job of overcoming a slow start and finding a way to win," said WestConn head coach Guy Rancourt following the contest.
With the win, the Colonials improved to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play, while the Beacons fell to 5-3 and 1-3.
WestConn returns to action for a non-league matchup at Keystone on Saturday, December 15 at 1 p.m.