Men's Basketball Falls at Rhode Island College in Battle of the Unbeatens

David Brown

Providence, RI --- Senior forward Mason Choice (Newport, RI) notched a season-high 17 points to go along with six rebounds as the Rhode Island College men's basketball team used stifling defense to knock off the previously undefeated WPI Engineers, 57-47, at The Murray Center on Thursday night. 

RIC stayed undefeated on the season with the win, and is now 9-0 for the first time since 1970-71.  The Engineers, No. 15 in the most recent Top 25, slip to 7-1. 

Aside from Choice's offensive outburst in the second half, the host's scoring was led by senior center Mike Akinrola (Woonsocket, RI) and junior guard Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY), who finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Akinrola added six boards, while Carter tallied four assists, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals. 

Rhode Island College opened the action with the first six points of the game on perfect 3-of-3 shooting. After senior guard David Brown (Lowell, MA) drained a three to put WPI on the board, RIC answered with a layup from Choice and a three-pointer from Carter to take an 11-3 lead with 15:40 remaining. 

After back-to-back baskets from freshman forward Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, MA) put WPI in double-digits with 12:10 on the clock, RIC responded immediately to extend its lead to 13 on a pair of buckets from Akinrola and Carter, making it, 23-10, with 11:23 left to play in the half. 

However, the Engineers bounced back with stingy defense through the conclusion of the first frame, limiting RIC to just four points during that stretch. Brown led WPI with eight points over the final 11 minutes, as the hosts went on a 14-4 run to make it, 27-24, at the half. 

After the two teams exchanged baskets to open the second half, freshman guard Sam Longwell (Acton, MA) buried a trey to tie the game at 31 with 15:47 remaining. After freshman guard Brandon Hill (Bronx, NY) answered the bell with a three of his own for RIC, sophomore forward Ryan Kolb (Southington, CT) and freshman guard Marco Coppola (Watertown, MA) drilled back-to-back jumpers from beyond the arc to put WPI back on top, 37-34, with 11:50 on the clock. 

However, after Akinrola connected on a layup with 11:23 remaining to pull RIC within one, Choice splashed a mid-range jumper with 10:39 remaining to make it 38-37. A three-point play from Choice put RIC up, 41-37, with 9:01 on the clock and the Anchormen never looked back, holding on to the lead for the remainder of the game. RIC outscored the Engineers, 19-10, over the final 10 minutes, with 13 of those points coming at the charity stripe. 

Brown led WPI with 13 points, while Coppola finished with 11 points and five assists. Mastascusa notched nine points, while senior center Matt Carr (Somersworth, NH) tallied six points, five boards, and pair of blocks. Longwell also chipped in with five points in the loss. 

The Anchormen held WPI to just 34 percent shooting from the floor, limited the Engineers to a season-low of 47 points and outrebounded the visitors, 41-32. Hill totaled a career-high eight points for RIC off the bench, while freshman forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, NY) and junior center Steven Roberts (New Haven, CT) contributed on the glass with six and five rebounds, respectively. 

WPI plays its final game before the Christmas holiday on Saturday, hosting Fitchburg State at 2pm.  The Falcons and Engineers sport identical 7-1 records.  Rhode Island heads to Eastern Connecticut on Saturday at 3pm in a rematch of last year's Little East Tournament championship game.

Release Courtesy Rhode Island College Sports Information