Worcester, MA- MCLA jumped out to a nine point halftime lead only to surrender it in the second half in a tough 81-78 loss at MASCAC rival Worcester State. The loss drops the Trailblazers to 7-14 on the season and 4-4 in MASCAC play. The Lancers improve to 7-15 overall, 4-5 in the conference.
Worcester quickly erased the halftime deficit in the second half pulling even at 43 on a Mike Gittens jumper in the lane. The lead would change eight times in the second half alone, until Worcester finally took charge going up by a point at 1:02 to play on a Frank Stephenson layup making it 75-74.
MCLA turned it over on the next possession as Robert Hunter got a steal. He was fouled and sent to the line. Hunter would connect on both attempts for a three point lead. The Trailblazers Jamal Brown got fouled on the other end, but only converted the back end slicing the lead to two with just 19 seconds left.
Forced to foul, MCLA sent Worcester's Kyle Ferreira to the line and he calmly sank both to push back out to a four point edge at 79-75. MCLA's Michael Young quickly drove to the hoop for two, but Worcester's Hunter made two more free throws to counter.
Another quick foul, this time by Worcester, sent Young back to the free throw line. He made the first, and missed the second. Trailing by three, MCLA got the offensive rebound, but a pair of Chris Harris three point attempts came up empty as time expired giving Worcester the key victory.
For MCLA, Young led the team with 17 points. He added five assists. Harris finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Tyriq Rochester came off the bench to score 11 points.
For the Lancers, Mike Gittens had a game high 23 points on 9-12 shooting. Frank Stephenson finished with 16 points and 6 assists. Ferreira chipped in with 13 and Monte Goodwin had 11.
Worcester shot 68% in the second half, 54% for the game.
MCLA now will face Westfield State in a key matchup on Tuesday at 7:30pm.