North Adams, MA- MCLA's Hayden Bird scored 16 points off the bench and the Trailblazer men's basketball team rallied past the visiting Fitchburg State Falcons 78-65 in MASCAC action from the Amsler Campus Center.
MCLA wins their sixth straight as they improve to 9-4 overall, but more importantly 2-0 in the conference. The Falcons drop to 7-8 overall and are 1-1 in the league.
The first half saw seven lead changes as both teams went on spurts. Fitchburg opened up a 19-13 lead after a Charles Doss drive and then Xavier Betancourt drilled a three pointer with 12:33 left til halftime. The Falcons would keep the lead and eventually hold a 27-20 advantage before MCLA rallied.
The home team would use a 12-0 run to take a 32-27 edge. Damon Daniel ignited the spurt with a layup and Hayden Bird knocked down a triple to start things. Bird was then fouled on a three point attempt and made all three to give MCLA a 28-27 lead. The spurt would continue and when Antoine Montgomery converted, the Trailblazers led 32-27 with seven minutes left until halftime.
Both teams went cold over the final seven minutes of action, but Fitchburg would claw back and trail just 37-34 at halftime. Chris Becker led MCLA with 10 first half points while Betancourt had 13 to lead the Falcons.
The Falcons stormed out the second half locker room and promptly went on an 11-0 run to take a 45-37 lead forcing an MCLA timeout. The Trailblazers responded with an impressive 19-3 spurt of their own to take command. Bird started the run with a triple as he and Yearsley scored the first 12 points of the run. A few minutes later when Quentin Gittens drove for two, MCLA led for good at 56-48.
Fitchburg would get within seven, but MCLA had the answers. The Falcons never threatened down the stretch as MCLA cruised home from there.
Bird was outstanding as he went 4-9 from the floor and a perfect 5-5 from the stripe for his 16 point night. Yearsley would end with 13 points. Chris Becker and Mike Demartinis chipped in with 10 apiece.
Fitchburg was paced by Betancourt's game high 21 point night. Dominik Williams added 13 and Devon Johnson added 10 in the loss.
MCLA shot 45% in the win compared to just 35% for the Falcons.
MCLA is back in action on Thursday night when they host Salem State at 5:30pm. The Falcons will travel to Westfield State.