While You Were Away

Ryan Thomas

After roughly a five-week sabbatical, The Mass Media is back. And more importantly, the sports section is back (quiet down and hold your applause, please). A lot has happened since December 21, some good, some bad, some that would be better off forgotten. And don’t even start with the “it’s a week late, the first issue came out last Monday” stuff. Already chastised myself for it.

Let’s take a quick gander at where the four teams – men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s hockey – currently stand. We’ll start low and work our way up.

The men’s basketball team continues to struggle without their main man from last year, Tony Barros, whose leadership and 40-plus-point games are sorely missed. The Beacons are 2-17 after recently squeaking out a two-point victory over the 13-4 Rhode Island College Anchormen, 74-72.

The January 26 victory was their most impressive of the season, as the Anchormen are second in the Little East (13-4, 5-2), behind nationally-ranked UMass Dartmouth (18-0, 8-0). It’s the first time that UMass Dartmouth has been nationally-ranked since they finished 25-3 in 2000-2001 and won the LEC Championship.

Only adding to the woes of the regular season, senior point guard A.J. Titus, who had been averaging 7.1 ppg and 3 apg, broke his left ankle December 8, the night of the team’s last game before the break. The team has not specified how the injury happened.

Women’s basketball, at the start of said sabbatical, was 4-4 with a slew of home games approaching on their schedule. The women are 2-3 at home since the break and have lost five out of their last six games, four of them to conference opponents, all of whom are above them in the standings. Their only in-conference home win came against Plymouth State College on January 15, when they beat the Panthers 72-58. Their record with eight games left is 6-11.

As was noted in Sebastian Lena’s story last week, there has been quite an interesting dynamic between freshman point guard Stephanie Vasquez and senior point guard Myrna Tanger. Combined, the two are averaging 11.8 ppg and 4.5 apg this season.

Senior guard LaKeisha Tucker, who last season averaged 15.2 ppg and aimed to achieve the 1,000th point of her career this season, has not played in the last eight games. This season, she was averaging 12.3 ppg, while shooting only .349 from the field. Senior center Alicia Querusio, who averaged 4.4 ppg and 4.0 rpg, has not seen action in the last nine games.

Second-year coach Peter Belisle has the men’s hockey team performing their best since 1999-2000, when they went 12-11 in the regular season and lost to Norwich University in the ECAC East semi-finals. Their current record is 8-8-1.

This season has seen its peaks and valleys, but none higher than when UMass Boston won the longest-running invitational hockey tournament – the Cod Fish Bowl – by beating Fitchburg State, 5-4 in overtime. It was the first time since 1997 that the Beacons had won the Cod Fish. Newcomer Brett Calhoun, who scored the gamer-winner in overtime for the Beacons, has been a pleasant surprise so far, contributing two goals and four assists in nine games.

The men had been playing well, winning five of their last seven games before losing two tough games to conference foes Salem State College and Southern Maine University over the previous weekend. UMass Boston is tied with St. Michael’s College for seventh in the ECAC East standings. The men have two conference games left, as well as two more home games.

As was the case early in the season, sophomore transfer Maria Nasta is lighting it up on the ice for the Lady Beacons. She leads the ECAC East with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 17 games. Nasta’s freshman teammate Rachel Sousa isn’t going unnoticed either. She’s fourth in the points standings with 24 (10 goals, 14 assists) and has earned ECAC East honors for Rookie of the Week three times.

All this adds up to a 9-8-0 overall record. More importantly, UMass Boston is 7-5-0 in-conference, tying Holy Cross for third place with 14 points. Holy Cross defeated the Lady Beacons at the Clark Center 5-1 on November 17. The women will be seeking revenge when they meet Holy Cross in Worcester later in February, likely with a high seed on the line for the upcoming tournament.