Courtesy Bridgewater State Sports Information
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. - The Bridgewater State College men's basketball team captured their second straight Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament championship as the Bears downed the Rams of Framingham State College in overtime, 74-70, this afternoon in the conference title game at the Tinsley Center in Bridgewater.
The Bears (19-7) have won the MASCAC Tournament title three times in the last five years and four times overall. This marks the first time that BSC has captured the championship at home as the three previous wins all came on the road. Bridgewater will now advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the fifth time in program history. The previous four appearances came in 1983, 1999, 2006 and 2009. Last year's squad made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.
"This was our goal at the beginning of the season," said Bridgewater State Head Coach Joe Farroba.
"It's one thing to win a championship, but once you are on top, everyone is giving you their best effort," added the 18-year BSC skipper. "To do it back-to-back is really special, and a testament to how hard these kids work."
Bridgewater State senior point guard Matt McLaughlin (Rochester, MA) earned tournament MVP honors as he scored a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists, a block and two steals in the championship game.
Junior guard Corey Connor (Providence, RI) added ten points for the host Bears, while junior forward Judah Jackson (Everett, MA) chipped in with 10 points and four boards before fouling out with 4:18 remaining in the second half. Junior center Samuel Johnson (North Chelmsford, MA) came off the bench to add 8 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Framingham State senior point guard Darius Yarrell (Brockton, MA) paced the visiting Rams (16-10) with team-high totals of 20 points, four assists and six steals. Senior forward Josue Almodovar (Holyoke, MA) added 15 points and seven rebounds, while junior forward Royce Veal (Dorchester, MA) scored 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting and pulled down five boards.
The game was a back and forth
thriller that consisted of nine ties and twelve lead changes.
Framingham State came out of the gates strong, and over the first
twelve minutes developed a 23-14 lead thanks to a 12-0 run.
Trailing 27-18 with 5:18 left to play in the opening stanza,
Bridgewater answered with an 11-1 run, capped off by a Connor
three-pointer, to take a one-point lead (29-28) with 2:15 left in
the half. The Rams, however, outscored the Bears 6-2 over the
final two minutes to take a 34-31 advantage into the
Neither team led by more than five points throughout the entire second half. Trailing throughout most of the stanza, Bridgewater finally took the lead on a Johnson layup with 6:13 left to play. A Bill Carey (Abington, MA) three-pointer followed by an Almodovar jumper gave the Rams a four-point cushion at 52-48. McLaughlin answered with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to one.
After a Roderick Jackson (Cambridge, MA) layup put the Rams back up by three with 2:44 remaining, a BSC three-pointer was off the mark and the Rams grabbed the rebound and called timeout. BSC sophomore guard Nathan Miller (New Bedford, MA) then stole the inbounds pass and fed Johnson for an easy layup to cut the deficit to one at 54-53. McLaughlin stole the ensuing inbounds pass and then knocked down a three to put the Bears up 56-54 with 1:38 left to play.
Down two, Veal tied the game up on a layup, and could have give the Rams the lead as he was fouled in the act of shooting, but missed the free throw attempt. Miller responded with a clutch three-pointer to give BSC the 59-56 advantage, but Yarrell answered on the other end of the with a long three to knot the game up at 59-59 with 20 second left. The teams exchanged turnovers in the final 20 seconds and a very long McLaughlin three-point attempt was off the mark as the buzzer sounded sending the teams into overtime.
McLaughlin opened the overtime
period with a driving layup which was answered by a Jackson
short-range jumper. After a BSC miss, Framingham junior
forward Brendan Carter (South Boston, MA) put in a
layup to give the Rams the 63-61 advantage. That lead was
short-lived as BSC senior center Chris Dijak
(Lunenburg, MA) tied the game up for the Bears on a layup off an
offensive rebound. The Bears then got a big stop on the defensive
end and Dijak connect on 1 of 2 free throws at the 1:53 mark to
give BSC the one-point lead at 64-63. Junior forward
Nicholas Motta (Fairhaven, MA) notched a big steal
which led to a McLaughlin layup as the Bears took control of the
game for good. Bridgewater would knock down eight free
throws, including six by McLaughlin, in the final 1:11 to come away
with the 74-70 victory.
"It was a total team effort," Said Farroba. "McLaughlin had a John Stockton type of a performance, and refused to let his team loose."
"Whether it was Johnson's eight points off of the bench or Miller's big shots, our bench really stepped up," Farroba added.