Fitchburg, MA- The MCLA men's basketball team found themselves down ten points with under ten minutes remaining to MASCAC foe Fitchburg State, but the Trailblazers caught fire from three point range and rallied back to hand the Falcons an 83-80 loss on the road. The Trailblazers (14-6 overall) remain atop the MASCAC standings at 7-1. Fitchburg (8-13 overall) suffers a tough loss as they fall to 2-6 in the conference.
The Falcons led for most of the first half and when Anthony Diaz converted a drive to the hoop with 9:34 remaining, they held a 64-54 lead. From there, the Trailblazers mounted their comeback.
The Trailblazers embarked on a 19-5 spurt to take their first lead since early in the game. MCLA made four FT's sandwiched around an FSU bucket to start the rally. Hayden Bird then nailed back to back threes to get MCLA within three at 67-64.
Another Diaz layup pushed the lead back to five, but Mike Demartinis would connect on two straight triples to put the visitors on top 71-69 with just under six minutes to play. MCLA would never trail again, but the Falcons did tie things up at 73-73 on a pair of Devon Johnson FT's.
The Trailblazers took the lead for good when Quentin Gittens converted a putback to go up 75-73. Both teams went cold over the final three minutes and MCLA increased the lead to three on a Bright Afful free throw. After Fitchburg had an empty possession, they were forced to foul. Ki-Shawn Monroe made two FT's with 41 ticks left to put MCLA up 78-73.
Diaz once again sliced the lead to just three, but two more FT's from Monroe kept the hosts at bay and Noah Yearsley's layup in transition with ten seconds left was the ultimate dagger to give MCLA the win.
The game was hampered by 50 fouls. The Falcons were whistled for 34 of them which led to the Trailblazers shooting 46 free throws compared to just 17 for the Falcons. MCLA converted 30 of those 46 free throws.
Demartinis ended with a game best 27 points on 8-17 shooting. He canned five triples on the night and grabbed 7 boards. Monroe collected 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Bright Afful had a nice game off the bench with 13 points and 5 rebounds in the win.
The Falcons were led by Devon Johnson's 20 points and 10 rebounds. Charles Doss added 18 points and 11 boards while Diaz ended with 16 points.
MCLA will continue MASCAC play on Saturday when they head to Salem to battle the Vikings.