North Adams, MA- Hayden Bird came off the bench to score a career best 31 points to lead the MCLA Men's Basketball team to their seventh straight win as the Trailblazers upended the Salem State Vikings 98-84 this evening in MASCAC action. The Trailblazers are off to their best conference start since the 2010-11 season as they improve to 10-4 overall and remain atop the MASCAC at 3-0.
Salem State falls to 1-14 overall and is now 0-3.
This first half was back and forth, but Bird took over about midway through the half. He scored 19 of his 31 points in the opening half to lead the Trailblazers to a 48-43 advantage at the break. MCLA never trailed in the second half as they immediately increased the lead to double digits at 55-45. Salem would cut it to five points, but once again MCLA answered. With the score at 55-50, MCLA used a 12-5 spurt to take command at 67-55.
The teams would go back and forth again, but eventually Salem would close to within 76-70 on a Hakeem Animashaun bucket with 9:29 left. They would get within five after trading baskets, but Patrick Bulger's triple made it 78-73. From there, MCLA finished off the Vikings with a 7-2 spurt to get back to a double digit advantage. From there, MCLA was never threatened and earned their seventh straight win.
Bird was 9-11 shooting which included an impressive 6-7 effort from beyond the arc. Ki-Shawn Monroe filled the stat sheet with 16 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds. Noah Yearsley and Chris Becker added 11 and 10 points respectively.
MCLA was impressive shooting the basketball as they converted on a 47% clip. The Trailblazers were on fire from beyond the arc however as they went 12-22 from three point range.
Salem was led by Animashaun's 18 points and 15 rebounds. He did most of his damage from the FT line going 10-12. Alex De La Rosa scored 17 points while Jaden Castillo added 16. Chris MacDonald chipped in with 14 while Bulger added 10.
The Vikings shot 46% in defeat.
MCLA will travel to Framingham State on Saturday while the Vikings take on Worcester State.