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Fifth Seeded Fitchburg State Captures First-Ever MASCAC Men's Basketball Title With 80-72 Victory Over Second Seeded MCLA in 2013 Championship Contest

Fifth Seeded Fitchburg State Captures First-Ever MASCAC Men's Basketball Title With 80-72 Victory Over Second Seeded MCLA in 2013 Championship Contest

Click here for MCLA-Fitchburg State box score

Courtesy MCLA Sports Information

Fitchburg State 80, MCLA 72

North Adams, MA- The fifth seeded Fitchburg State Falcons used a powerful second half spurt and then held off the second seeded MCLA Trailblazers to earn a hard fought 80-72 victory in the 2013 MASCAC Men’s basketball championship game.

With the win, the Falcons will receive the conference’s automatic bid into the Division III NCAA tournament when seeding is announced on Monday. Fitchburg won three straight road games against higher seeds en route to the MASCAC tournament championship, which is the first for the Falcons Men’s basketball program.  Fitchburg improved to 16-10.

MCLA falls to 14-13 and will await word on a possible ECAC tournament bid.

The Falcons were paced by Mike Ingram-Rubin’s game high 25 points on an impressive 7-8 shooting night.  For his efforts, he was named the tournament’s MVP.

MCLA led by eight at halftime, but Fitchburg quickly jumped right back in it.  They scored the opening five points of the closing half to pull within three points, but MCLA immediately responded with a  quick 6-1 burst to match their largest lead at 41-33 with 17:23 to play.  That was where the Falcons really asserted themselves and took command.

The Falcons used an explosive 20-5 run over the next seven minutes to grab a 53-46 lead.  In the middle of the run, senior center Zach Valliere’s dunk tied the score at 46 all.  The run would continue Tom Henneberry converted consecutive jumpers before Ingram-Rubin capped it off with a transition three pointer.  Those three players would account for 18 of the 20 points in the spurt.

Fitchburg continued the assault and jumped out to their largest lead of the night at 65-54 on a Brandon Selby layup with just 6:29 left.  The run forced MCLA to defend full court hoping to switch momentum.  MCLA went on a 9-2 spurt to close within four at 67-63 with 4:45 remaining.  The Trailblazers received a much needed boost from freshman Anthony Barbosa who scored eight straight points to get MCLA back in the contest.

After Fitchburg pushed back out to an eight point lead again at 72-64 on a Jeremy Kimber bucket, MCLA made one last run.  The Trailblazers scored six in points trimming the margin to just a pair at 72-70.  Barbosa started the run with a driving layup, while Ramon Viches’ two free throws brought MCLA within two with just 1:52 left.

Fitchburg was unflappable though as they outscored MCLA 8-2 in the closing 1:52 to grab the victory.  They were aided by a solid six of eight showing at the line in the closing minute.  MCLA on the other hand went 0-11 from the field in that final stretch.

In the opening half, neither team led by more than three points for the majority of the period.  The first half featured seven ties and six lead changes.  MCLA finally took command after Valliere’s jumper tied the game at 21 with 6:16 left til halftime.  The Trailblazers would outscore the Falcons 14-6 over the final minutes to take an eight point halftime lead.

MCLA used a 8-2 spurt fueled by a pair of John Jones buckets to take a 29-23 lead.  After the Falcons Ingram-Rubin drilled a pull up three pointer to pull within three at 29-26, MCLA would answer with baskets by Kenny Suggs and a John Jones hoop to go back up seven.  Ingram-Rubin connected on one of two at the stripe and then Suggs made a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining to provide the halftime score (35-27).

Suggs came off the bench in the opening half to score 10 points and grab 6 rebounds, including four on the offensive glass.  Ingram-Rubin kept the Falcons in it by scoring 11 points in the opening twenty minutes.

Ingram-Rubin finished off an impressive week adding 3 assists and 4 rebounds in his MVP performance.  Henneberry would finish with 16 points, including 14 after halftime.  Valliere ended his night a rebound shy of a double double with 15 points and 9 rebounds.  He added 6 blocks on the defensive end.    The Falcons shot 43% on the afternoon.

MCLA was paced by Jones’ team high 16 points.  He pulled down 6 boards and added 5 assists.  Suggs would finish with 13 points and 8 boards, while Richard Johnson added 12 points and 6 rebounds.  Barbosa ended with 10 points, all of which came in a three minute span.  The Trailblazers shot 39% from the floor in the game.