Men's Basketball: In Home-Opener, Warriors Overwhelm Valiants, Match Best Start Ever

Leonel Hyatt has his way inside the paint, dropping in this layup and converting the ensuing free throw after being fouled  to give the Warriors a 19-point lead five minutes into the second half of Tuesday's home-opening 78-59 non-conference win over Manhattanville College. Hyatt had five points in a minute after the Valiants had drawn to within 16. He finished with 13 points in 20 minutes.
Leonel Hyatt has his way inside the paint, dropping in this layup and converting the ensuing free throw after being fouled to give the Warriors a 19-point lead five minutes into the second half of Tuesday's home-opening 78-59 non-conference win over Manhattanville College. Hyatt had five points in a minute after the Valiants had drawn to within 16. He finished with 13 points in 20 minutes.

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The No. 20-ranked Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team has started its season with seven straight wins for the second time in the program's 77-year history -- equalling the start of the 1941-42 team -- following a 78-59 non-conference victory over Manhattanville College in the Warriors' home-opener Tuesday night at Geissler Gymnasium.

Off the bench, freshman guard Cory Muckle (Westbrook) scored ten of his 12 points in the first half and grabbed six of his game-high eight rebounds to help carry Eastern (7-0) to a 20-point, 44-24 halftime lead.

In that first half, Eastern shot 54.3 percent from the floor and turned the ball over only five times and converted 12 turnovers into 13 points in defeating Manhattanville (3-3) for the fourth time in the four-game series. The road game was the first of the year for the Valiants.

The 20-point halftime lead never dipped below 16 points in the second half. After an inside bucket by sophomore guard JoJo Cobbs pulled Manhattanville to within 16 points, the Warriors went on a 10-2 run that lifted the lead to its widest margin (24 points) with 13 minutes left. Junior forward Leonel Hyatt (Greenwich) had half of the team's points in that spurt with a conventional three-point play and inside hoop, and senior guard Tarchee Brown (Rockville) punctuated it with his only three-point field goal of the game to make it 58-34.

Brown had 16 points to lead four double-figure scorers, with Hyatt adding 13, Muckle 12, and junior guard Donny Craig (Waterford) came off the bench for ten points.

After missing the first six games with injury, freshman forward  Brian Callahan (Ludlow, MA) connected on all three of his field goal attempts (in the final five minutes of the first half), and grabbed three rebounds in eight total minutes in his debut. Sophomore starting guard Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) was held scoreless in 25 minutes but had four steals, three rebounds and three assists. Senior forward Jacob Collins (Bristol) came off the bench for career-high seven rebounds in 13 minutes. Senior guard Collin Jordan (Cheshire) played 11 minutes off the bench with three assists, three steals and a rebound.

Senior forward Alex Tuci of Manhattanville led all players with 20 points (7-of-10 FTs) and matched Muckle with eight rebounds, with Cobbs  adding 16 points (11 in the second half) and five rebounds.  

The 1941-42 team, under the direction of E-Club Hall of Fame coach Carl Troester and led by legendary players Bob Scranton, Jack Selavka, Dick Walker and John Petrus, won all 14 of its games in winning the New England Teachers' College Conference in its first season of participation. It is Eastern's only undefeated team to date.

Eastern hosts WPI Thursday at 5:30 p.m.