North Adams, MA- Visiting Westfield State made some key plays down the stretch and held on for a narrow 70-68 win over MCLA in MASCAC action. With the win the Owls improve to 11-6 and hold onto the top spot in the league at 3-1. MCLA drops to 4-12 overall, 1-2 in the league.
Westfield pushed out to a commanding 61-50 lead with 6:40 to play following a layup from Matt Devine. MCLA would respond with a 12-0 run to take a one point lead at 62-61. Trailblazer Michael Young had six points in the run.
Westfield scored the next five to take a 66-62 lead with just 44 seconds remaining. A pair of Jamal Brown free throws for MCLA cut the lead in half, but the Owls Ryan White answered with a pair on the other end pushing the lead back to four.
With ten seconds to play, MCLA's Young slashed to basket for two and was fouled. He would miss the ensuing free throw, however, and the hosts were forced to foul. Westfield's Lee Vazquez missed the first before calmly sinking the second, extending the Westfield lead to 69-66.
The Owls decided to foul rather than allow MCLA to get off a three point shot. Young made both free throws slashing the deficit to just a point with five seconds left. After getting the ball inbounds to Devine, the Westfield junior was fouled. He made the first attempt before missing the second. Young's desperation three at the buzzer was off the mark giving Westfield the narrow victory.
In the opening half, Westfield jumped out quickly on the Trailblazers leading 14-7 after five minutes of play. MCLA continually chipped away at the deficit, eventually taking their first lead at 24-23 on a Chris Harris layup with 7:16 remaining til halftime. It was the only lead of the first half for MCLA until Bilal Shabazz banked home a three pointer at the buzzer to give the hosts a slim 34-31 lead at the half.
For MCLA, Young finished with a team high 15 points and 7 rebounds. Jamal Brown finished with 13 points, adding 7 boards as well.
Westfield was led Vazquez' 18 points. Joining him in double figures was Ryan DeLosa with 13 points, Ryan White had 12, and Devine finished with 11 points. Devine also had a game high 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. The Owls were hampered by poor free throw shooting as they connected on just 21-38 attempts (55%).
MCLA is back in action on Thursday when they travel to Framingham State.