Courtesy of Bridgewater Sports Information
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Bridgewater State University advanced to the championship game of the 2018 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Men's Basketball Tournament as the second-seeded Bears knocked off #3 MCLA, 102-93, in the semifinal round on Thursday night at the Tinsley Center.
The Bears improve to 17-9 on the season and advance to the MASCAC championship game for the 11th time in program history. Bridgewater will host #4 Fitchburg State University on Saturday afternoon at one. Fitchburg stunned top-seeded Salem State University in overtime, 90-81, in the other semifinal matchup. The Trailblazers end the 2017-2018 campaign with an overall record of 10-16.
Three Bears scored at least 20 points with sophomore forward Rayshon Ward (Fayetteville, N.C.) and senior guard Rocky DeAndrade (Mansfield, Mass.) leading the way with 25 points apiece. Ward connected on 8 of 12 field goals and was 8-for-10 at the free throw line. He also grabbed nine rebounds. DeAndrade went 8-for-14 from the floor, including a trio of three-pointers, and finished a perfect 6-for-6 at the charity stripe. He added five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Sophomore guard Ryan Carney (Easton, Mass.) contributed 23 points on 5 of 9 shooting from behind the arc. Carney was also a perfect 4-for-4 at the line and dished out four assists. Senior forward Joseph Carty (Natick, Mass.) posted a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with five assists.
Bridgewater overcame an outstanding effort from MCLA freshman guard Noah Yearsley (Averill Park, N.Y.). Yearsley poured in a game-high 31 points as he went 11-for-19 from the floor including an impressive 8-for-11 from three-point range. Five other Trailblazers scored in double figures. Senior forward Joseph Wiggins (Pittsfield, Mass.) notched 15 points, while senior guard Keiland Cross (Pittsfield, Mass.) filled the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Senior forward Adam Conquest (Gardner, Mass.) added 11 points and six boards for MCLA and sophomore guard Ki-Shawn Monroe (Springfield, Mass.) notched ten points.
With the score knotted at 20-20 with 13 minutes remaining in the first half, the Bears used an 11-0 run in a span of 2 ½ minutes to open up a 31-20 lead. DeAndrade scored eight of the 11 points during the spurt including a pair of three-pointers.
With the Bears still maintaining a double-digit advantage with three minute remaining in the stanza (46-36), MCLA closed out the half with a 10-0 run as the two teams headed to the break with the score tied at 46-46. Yearsley tallied the final five points of the spurt.
Ward scored 14 points in the first half to lead all players, while DeAndrade tallied 13. The Bears shot 45% (18-40) over the first 20 minutes and went 5-for-16 (31%) from behind the arc.
Yearsley paced the visitors with 12 first-half points as he went 3-for-3 from downtown. Wiggins checked in with ten points for the Trailblazers who shot 52% (16-31) from the floor and 60% (9-15) from three-point range in the opening stanza.
Bridgewater dominated play for the first seven minutes of the second half as the Bears outscored the Trailblazers, 27-10, to open up a 73-56 lead and force an MCLA timeout. The Trailblazers chipped away at the deficit and used a 9-0 run to close the gap to 78-73 with seven minutes left to play. Moments later, MCLA pulled to within four, 81-77, following an uncontested Bird layup. The Trailblazers had a chance to get to within two, but could not convert a driving layup.
The Bears answered with a pair of DeAndrade free throws and, following a stop, Carty knocked down clutch three-pointer from the corner to extend the BSU lead to nine, 86-77, with 4:15 remaining. The Trailblazers would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way. Bridgewater went 14-for-16 from the free throw line over the final three minutes to secure the 102-93 victory.
Bridgewater shot 49% (32-66) for the game and finished 13-for-27 (48%) from long range and 25-for-29 (86%) at the line. MCLA connected on 49% (33-67) of its field goal attempts including 16-for-29 (55%) from behind the arc. The Trailblazers finished 11-for-16 (69%) at the stripe.