By Brian Dostaler
For the seventh time in program history, the Eastern Connecticut Men’s Basketball team was in the “Big Dance”. The Warriors clinched an NCAA Tournament berth after taking down Keene State College in the Little East Conference Tournament Championship Game 72-70 back on February 25th. Two days later on “Selection Monday”, Eastern was slated to play in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania with their first round matchup against MIT on Friday March 3rd.
In the opening round game against the Engineers, the Warriors had four the five starters in double-figures as Junior Guard Tarchee Brown (Rockville, CT) had a game high 22 points, Senior Forward Hugh Lindo (Enfield, CT) finished with 21 points, Sophomore Guard Tyrell Arnum (Bloomfield, CT) had 15 points and Senior Forward Dave Canny (Torrington, CT) scored 12 points (all in the 2nd half). It was a complete team effort as Eastern easily took care of the Engineers 86-70 in the opening round game. The Warriors led by as many as 18 points and never trailed in this game. Lindo, who was named Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year earlier in the week, not only had 21 points, but he pulled down 12 rebounds to earn his 20th double-double of the season.
In round two, Eastern faced off against host school Susquehanna University. In a frustrating game for the Warriors, where Eastern took 19 more shots and made 5 more three pointers than their opponent, the River Hawks made 23 of 27 free throws and won 72-67 behind Steven Weidlich’s game high 25 points. Eastern was down by as many as 12 late in the 2nd half and cut the deficit to three but Susquehanna’s clutch free throws prevented the Warriors from getting over the top.
With the loss, it means the 4-year career of Canny, Senior Forward Brandon Kuczenski (Naugatuck, CT) and Lindo all came to an end. These three players combined to go 84-30, 4-straight Little East Conference Regular Season Titles, 1-time Little East Conference Tournament Championship and 3-time NCAA appearances, where Eastern went 2-3 in those games.