By Staff Writer Greg Estabrooks.
The UMass Dartmouth men’s basketball team kicked off their season last Saturday with a trip to Waltham, MA to take on Brandeis University.
Brandeis came out the gates swinging in this one and quickly jumped to a 17-4 lead, just over 6 minutes into the contest. The Judges received a nice chunk of their offense in the first half from junior guard Corey Sherman, who posted 13 of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes of play. Sherman would go on to grab 10 rebounds in the game and dish out 5 assists as well.
Once the Corsairs were able to get into a little bit of a rhythm, they fought back and were able to cut the lead to six by halftime, making it 37-31. They were aided by aggressive play from senior forward Arinze Obiora, who scored 11 points on 4-10 shooting and grabbed 5 boards in the opening half. Obiora finished the game with a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds).
UMass Dartmouth also received a spark off the bench in the first half from sophomore Harry Alexander, who scored 6 on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting.
In the second half, the visiting Corsairs played better defense and limited the Judges to just 26 points. Partly thanks to the hot hand of freshman Marcus Azor, who scored a game-high 16 points in the contest (12 of these coming in the second half), UMass Dartmouth found themselves with a 54-53 lead with under 3 minutes left to go.
Then, with 1:58 remaining in the game, Judge senior forward Layte Workman was able to secure a key offensive rebound, which eventually led to a 3-pointer from freshman Chandler Jones on an assist from Sherman.
This gave Brandeis a 56-54 advantage. Down the stretch, the Judges maintained control and closed out the contest with a 7-2 run.
Turnovers proved to be costly in this one, as the Corsairs turned the ball over 24 times. Poor shooting stretches also plagued the Corsairs, especially from downtown, as they were only able to knock down one of their 14 attempts from 3-point range.
Their shooting will surely improve as the season goes on.
UMass Dartmouth men’s basketball has a different look this year, with four freshmen on the squad, as well as two transfers from Mount Ida College. They also retained some veteran leadership, as the team will be led this year by seniors Matthew Soule, Atakan Akcam, and Arinze Obiora.
Another familiar face is head coach Brian Baptiste, who is now in his 36th year at the helm of Corsair basketball. Baptiste has had great success in his time here at UMass Dartmouth, as the men’s basketball team is the winningest program since the inception of the Little East Conference in 1986.
Since that time, the Corsairs have a .663 winning percentage, 13 Little East Conference regular season titles, and 11 tournament championships. The Corsairs have made it as far as the Final Four in the NCAA Division III tournament under Baptiste. The team this year is a talented bunch, and they are well-poised for another successful season.