Courtesy of Salem State Sports Information
SALEM, Mass. -- Michael Lofton (Mansfield, MA) scored 24 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors, as the number two seeded Bears of Bridgewater State upended the number one seed Vikings of Salem State, 83–73 to claim the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday at Twohig Gymnasium. With the victory the Bears earn their sixth MASCAC Tournament post-season championship, which includes an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Bryan Ortiz (Salem, MA) got the ball rolling for the Vikings in the first half with three three-pointers in the first four minutes that gave Salem State a 16-8 lead. First Team all-conference forward Lofton scored 12 points for the Bears in the half and was an offensive force in the paint as Bridgewater State outscored Salem State 24-12 in the post.
Though the Vikings were getting beat down low, they took their game to the perimeter, shooting 19-30 on 4-11 from beyond the arc. A Chris Parenteau (Lancaster, MA) layup gave Salem State a 28-22 lead with 9:42 remaining in the first and forced the Bears to use a timeout.
Bridgewater responded, and a three-pointer from Ryan Spencer (Franklin, MA) sparked a 20-8 run that ended the half with the Bears (16-11) leading 45-36. During that stretch, Barrett Murphy (Marshfield, MA) scored five points which included a buzzer-beater three-pointer from Tyler DeMelo (East Freetown, MA).
Down 11, the Vikings were able to cut the deficit to just five after an Andrew White (Medford, MA) mid-range jumper with just under 11 minutes to play. Salem State earned consecutive defensive stops and was also able to score on back-to-back possessions to come within one point of the Bears, 65-64 with 3:30 remaining. Nicholas Grassa (Lynn, MA) finished a three-point play on an and-one opportunity to spark Salem State.
However, Brendan Monteiro (Brockton, MA) who heated up in the second half scoring 18 of his total 24 points, scored five straight points in back-to-back possessions for Bridgewater State that gave the Bears a 70-64 lead with 2:06 remaining. Kyle Gibson (Franklin, MA) scored 15 points for the Bears and was critical in the final minutes shooting 5-of-6 from the foul line, while as a team Bridgewater State shot 13-of-16 to secure an 83-73 victory to earn the MASCAC title.
Ortiz finished the game with 21 points while teammate Grassa finished with 18 points. Hamed Akanni (Fitchburg, MA) added 13 points off the bench. Salem State finishes the year with a 17-9 record.
Bridgewater State will find out on Monday, March 3 who they will play in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The selection show begins at 12:30 p.m. and can be found by clicking here.