DANBURY, CT - Despite a game-high 18 points from sophomore guard Aaron Samuel (Stratford, CT), the Western men's basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 70-69 loss to LEC foe UMass-Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon at Feldman Arena. The visitors failed to connect from the free throw line in the final minute, however, the Colonials could not capitalize on the misses.
Western lone senior Tre'Von Perry (Waterbury, CT) was honored before the contest (Senior Day) and he put forth a solid effort, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds. Three other players also netted double-figures for the Colonials as junior Bobby Bynum (New Haven, CT), sophomore Jauch Green (Hartford, CT) and junior Dimitrios Tsesmetzis (Hopewell Junction, NY) added 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Junior guard Tucker Bouchard (Kingston, MA) paced the Corsairs with 14 points, including the game-winning hoop with just under a minute remaining.
The score was tight midway through the opening half until Western went on a 17-6 run. Perry ignited the spurt with a baseline jumper off a slick bounce pass from Bynum. Moments later, Tsesmetzis capped the flurry with a pair from the charity stripe after being hacked while snagging an offensive board, giving the hosts a 31-19 lead. Rookie guard Evan Curtin (Portland, CT) rounded out the first half tally with a fastbreak layup after a steal by Samuel, making the count 36-26 at the break.
The Colonials seemed to have the momentum on their side early in the second half. Samuel drove down the lane and surged to the hoop for a ferocious two-handed dunk. Shortly thereafter, he drained a couple from the line to keep Western ahead by eight with about 14 minutes left on the clock. UMass-Dartmouth quickly countered with an 8-2 run, slicing the deficit to 51-49. The Colonials would hold onto a slim advantage the rest of the way until Bouchard drove and hit a righty floater off the glass with 46 ticks left, giving the Corsairs their first lead since the opening minutes of play.
Western had an opportunity to score with 12 seconds remaining, however, Bynum's driving scoop shot rolled just off the rim. After a pair of missed UMD free throws, the Colonials pushed the ball for a half court heave. However, the desperation shot came after the buzzer sounded as it caromed off the glass. "One more play, or one more stop. Unfortunately, we could not get it. You can love the game of basketball but it doesn't have to love you back," said Colonials head coach Jason Harlow after the tough loss.
With the loss, Western dropped to 12-8 overall and 4-6 in conference play, while the Corsairs improved to 14-7 and 7-3. The Colonials return to action at cross-state LEC rival Eastern Connecticut on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.