Courtesy of BSU Sports Information
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – The MCLA men's basketball team opened Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) play with a 74-68 victory over host Bridgewater State University on Saturday afternoon at the Tinsley Center.
The Trailblazers improve to 8-4 on the season with their fifth straight win. The Bears, who were playing without leading scorer Ryan Carney (Easton, Mass.), fall to 3-10 with the setback.
Junior forward Mike DeMartinis (Burlington, Mass.)) scored 20 points and added four rebounds and five assists to lead the way for MCLA. Junior guard Noah Yearsley (Averill Park, N.Y.) added 14 points, five boards and three assists for the Trailblazers, while junior forward Hayden Bird (North Adams, Mass.) and senior guard Ki-Shawn Monroe (Springfield, Mass.) tallied ten points apiece. Monroe also finished with a team-best nine rebounds.
Senior forward Dimitri St. Louis (Brockton, Mass.) posted a double-double with a game-high 21 points and ten rebounds (four offensive) to go along with five blocked shots to lead the way for Bridgewater State. Senior forward Rayshon Ward (Fayetteville, N.C.) also registered a double-double for the Bears with 15 points and a game-best 14 boards, while junior guard Jonathan Mercado (Lynn, Mass.) tallied ten points on 5 of 7 shooting. Ward also added four assists, while Mercado notched four boards and three assists.
Trailing by 11 (21-10) with 11:49 remaining in the first half, the Bears used a 13-2 spurt, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers by St. Louis and sophomore guard David Laine (Bourne, Mass.), to knot the score at 23-23. The Trailblazers answered with a 12-4 run capped off by back-to-back trifectas from DeMartinis and Bird to open up an eight-point advantage (35-27) with 5:27 left to play in the stanza. Bridgewater then reeled off eight straight points, four each from Ward and St. Louis, over the next four minutes to tie it up once again, 35-35. MCLA, however, closed out the half with a Bird three-pointer and DeMartinis layup to take a 40-35 lead into the break.
St. Louis led all players with 12 first-half points, while DeMartinis tallied 11 for the Trailblazers.
A tightly contested second half featured two ties and two lead changes. The final lead change occurred at the 7:19 mark when a Monroe layup and free throw gave MCLA a 56-54 lead. Ward made 1 of 2 free throws at the other end of the floor to make it a one-point game (56-55). After making back-to-back stops, the Bears had two chances to reclaim the lead but could not convert. The Trailblazers then scored six straight points, as they took advantage of a pair of BSU turnovers, to pull ahead 62-55 with 4:13 left to play.
Down 62-55, the Bears cut it two following a St. Louis runner and Pettway three-pointer. Yearsley, however, drained a trifecta at the other end to make it a five-point game, 65-60, with just over three minutes remaining. A pair of free throws by Ward was answered by 1 of 2 at the line by Yearsley as the margin stood at four (66-62) with 2:41 showing on the scoreboard. A Ward alley-oop dunk off an MCLA turnover cut the deficit to two, but Yearsley responded with a baseline driving layup to make it a two possession game, 68-64, with just 1:18 left to play. Yearsley then came up with a clutch steal and the Trailblazers went 6-for-6 at the free throw line over the final 51 seconds to seal the 74-68 victory.
MCLA shot 43% (26-61) for game including 7-for-16 (44%) from behind the arc. Trailblazers also converted 15 of 19 free throw attempts (79%).
Bridgewater connected on 44% (28-63) of their field goal attempts and finished just 4-for-21 (19%) from three-point range and 8-for-13 (61%) at the stripe.
The MASCAC schedule continues for both teams on Tuesday night at 7:30. The Bears travel to Salem State University to take on the Vikings, while the Trailblazers entertain the Falcons of Fitchburg State University.