North Adams, MA- Hayden Bird came off the bench to score a game high 20 points in leading the MCLA men's basketball team to a hard fought 78-76 win over Rivier University this evening in the Amsler Campus Center Gym. The Trailblazers move to 3-5 on the season while Rivier drops to 0-8.
The game was tight throughout as neither side led by more than six points all night. With the game tied at 70-70, Rivier's Kirk Palladino converted a Tyler Bradanese pass for a two point lead. The basket ignited a 6-0 spurt for the Raiders as Tarik Rivers added two free throws and when Angel Perez drove to the basket with just 1:41 left, it was 76-70 in favor of the Raiders.
Bird drained a huge three to get the Trailblazers within three at 76-73 and then MCLA forced a turnover. Antoine Montgomery would make a tough leaner in the lane to get within one point with just 1:06 left to play. MCLA forced another turnover and when Montgomery connected again, this time with 46 seconds left, MCLA led 77-76. The Trailblazers forced their third straight turnover on Rivier's next possession, forcing the visitors to foul.
MCLA's Mike Demartinis made one of two to extend the lead to 78-76, but Rivier had possession out of a timeout. Joshua L'Heureux drove the lane, however MCLA's Noah Yearsley blocked the shot and Ki-Shawn Monroe grabbed the board for MCLA. A Rivier foul sent Monroe to the line, but he missed both attempts allowing the Raiders one last chance.
In the final seconds, Kirk Palladino attempted a three pointer that just missed and a loose ball ensued as time expired giving MCLA the narrow victory.
Bird led all scorers on 8-14 shooting including a pair of three's. Montgomery and Monroe each ended with 16 points in the win. Montgomery added a team best 7 rebounds. The Trailblazers overcame 22 turnovers in the win.
Rivier was paced by Angel Perez and Tarik Rivers, who each ended with 16 points. L'Heureux notched 12 points while Tyler Bradanese and Palladino each ended with 11 points. The Raiders were outrebounded 42-31 in the loss.
MCLA wraps up semester play on Monday as they head to Union (NY).