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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Close loss to EastConn ends men’s basketball season

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Men’s Basketball home game from the past weekend. Photo by Olivia Reid (She/Her) / Photography Editor. 

The Little East Conference Tournament has arrived, and the fifth-seeded UMass Boston Beacons headed into Tuesday, Feb. 21 looking to keep their season alive (1). The Beacons were matched up against the fourth-seeded Eastern Connecticut Warriors, a team they split the season series against (2). The Beacons ended their regular season on a three-game losing streak, and unfortunately, they could not break it (2). 

Almost immediately after the game started, it became competitive. Forward Malik Lorquet and guard Tommy Burris came out firing, totaling 14 points between the two in the first 11 minutes of action. Even with their efforts, the lead changed on 11 different occasions. The exciting half was concluded with guards Emanuel Zayas and Xavier McKenzie scoring some quick buckets to put the Beacons up four, the score being 33–29 (1). 

It was now the start of the second half and the Beacons started to rain down threes. Forward Ike Ekuwa, and guards Bobby Joy and McKenzie led the way as the Beacons extended their lead to 12. However, this lead was cut to two in just a matter of minutes, as the Warriors went on a 10–0 run. The two teams then continued to trade baskets, and with just under a minute left, the Warriors now had the lead at 59–58 (1).  

With both teams’ seasons on the line, it felt like the lid was put on the basket in the final minute. The Beacons had several opportunities to take the lead back, but it just seemed like nothing would fall. A costly Zayas turnover with three seconds remaining led to free throws for Warriors’ guard Tyriece Woods, and that iced the game. The Beacons lost 5862, officially knocking them out of the tournament and ending their 2022 to 2023 season (1). 

McKenzie was the Beacons’ leading scorer, finishing with 15 points. Lorquet was right behind him with 14 of his own alongside a whopping 17 rebounds. The Warriors’ starting trio of Woods, Dominick Dao, and Jalen Williams all finished with double-digit points, scoring ten, 11 and 14 points, respectively. Despite the scoring, neither team was very efficient, with the Beacons shooting 36.7 percent and the Warriors shooting 38.9 percent (3). 

The Beacons had a rough finish, losing their last four games to end the season (2). Despite the disappointing conclusion, there was a lot to be happy about with how things played out this year. With a 15–11 record, the Beacons won four more games than they did the previous year when they finished 11–14 (4). 

There was even a stretch where the Beacons found themselves winning eight games in a row, putting up dominant performances night after night. Losing seven out of nine to end the season sure doesn’t feel good, but this team showed that when playing at their best, they are as good as any other team in the Little East (2). 

Malik Lorquet and Xavier McKenzie made their mark this year. Lorquet had a season for the ages, averaging 18.9 points, 13.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals on the season (5). He led all of NCAA Division III in double-doubles (2), set the record for most career rebounds by a Beacon (6) and even joined the 1,000-point club (7). Lorquet has solidified himself as one of the best players to ever put on a Beacon jersey.

However, for fans who want to look toward the future, you may want to make yourself familiar with Xavier McKenzie. McKenzie assumed a starting role as a freshman and averaged 14.7 points, 4.5 assists and two steals this past season. McKenzie even put together a sensational 31-point performance against Plymouth State (8). As long as he is wearing blue, the Beacons have something to look forward to these next few years. 

All good things must come to an end. This season may not have ended the way the Beacons wanted it to, but they have shown significant improvement. Next year, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to get even better and potentially win the Little East Conference Tournament. Good luck to the Warriors in the next round, where they will be facing the top-seeded Keene State Owls (9), and best of luck to the Beacons as they prepare for next fall! 

Sources:
1.     https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2023/2/21/late-run-by-eastern-connecticut-ends-mens-basketballs-Season-in-LEC-Quarterfinals.aspx
2.     https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule
3.     https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/stats/2022-23/eastern-connecticut-state/boxscore/10727
4.     https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule/2021-22
5.     https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster/malik-lorquet/3703
6.     https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2023/2/4/lorquet-sets-rebounding-record-big-game-leads-mens-basketball-to-lec-win-over-plymouth-state.aspx
7.     https://beaconsathletics.com/news/2023/2/18/malik-lorquet-reaches-1-000-points-mens-basketball-drops-regular-season-finale.aspx
8.     https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster/xavier-mckenzie/3708
9.     https://littleeast.com/news/2023/2/21/no-4-eastern-connecticut-no-6-umass-dartmouth-advance-to-2023-mens-basketball-semifinals.aspx

About the Contributor
Liam Crampton, Sports Writer