By Sports Editor Tom Griffin
A pair of wins and some late-game grand finals heroics carried the Corsairs to a first–place finish and back-to-back titles at the Lafrance Hospitality basketball tournament.
The first match, a semifinal against Husson, was dominated handily by the Corsairs, who maintained at least a 20-point lead over their Eagle adversaries through two halves.
Leading the charge for UMass Dartmouth was Jake Ashworth, whose 27-point outing, featuring six buckets from the three-point line, made all the difference in outscoring their opponent 89-46 by the final buzzer. Assisting Ashworth on his double was freshman Harry Alexander, whose 11 rebounds on the afternoon kept the ball in the UMassD leading scorer’s hands.
The cakewalk of a qualifying match served as proper practice for a much larger hurdle: facing Trinity in the finals. The Bantams, having earned the first win of their season in their own semifinal, proved a much tougher opponent to the currently undefeated Corsairs.
UMassD rode a lofty 7-point lead into halftime, but a second-half surge from the bantams led to 6 lead changes or ties until the final buzzer, with the Corsairs trailing by as much as eight points in the waning minutes of regulation.
Amidst the chaotic back-and-forth, Harry Alexander remained a consistent asset to the Corsairs in his defensive playmaking, once again leading his team on the defensive front with 12 rebounds.
With his team struggling, Marcus Azor took it upon himself to carry UMassD to another title, despite the ever-growing Bantam lead. Twelve of his team-leading twenty total points on the evening came as the second half drew to a close.
With nine seconds remaining, and his team trailing 67-66, Azor charged in to steal the lead with a layup and one. The two-point Corsair lead that stemmed from Azor’s clutch performance would prove to be game-sealing, as the remaining four seconds proved too short for the Bantams to line up an accurate three-pointer. Trinity’s final shot would fall harmlessly back down to the boards as the buzzer sounded.
The Corsairs were, once again, tournament champions. For his efforts, Marcus Azor was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the Lafrance Hospitality tournament.
In addition, following their sweep of the tournament bracket, the Corsairs remain undefeated at 4-0 on their young season. It’s too early to know if this winning streak will last, but no matter how close the score lies in the waning minutes, the Corsairs have, so far, always managed to come out on top.