Worcester, MA --- MCLA senior Jamal Brown (Springfield, MA) finished with game-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds with three steals to help lead fifth-seeded Trailblazers to a 73-65 triumph over #4 Worcester State in the quarterfinal round of the MASCAC Men's Basketball Tournament this evening at the Lancer Gym.
With the triumph MCLA snapped a six-game skid to up their record to 8-18. They move on to play top-seed Salem State on Thursday at 7 PM. The Lancers wrap up their 2011-12 campaign at 8-18.
Fourth-year Chris Harris (Boston, MA/O'Bryant) also notched 15 points and seven boards for the visitors and classmate Michael Young (Boston, MA) added 12 points.
Senior Tyrell Mosley (Boston, MA) finished his evening chipping in with nine points as he became the 18th MCLA men's basketball player to reach the 1,000 point milestone.
The Blue and Gold were paced by sophomore Robert Hunter (St. Louis, MI) who recorded his 18th double-double in 26 games this season with a team-best 17 points with 11 boards. Sophomore Mike Gittens (Uncasville, CT) added 14 points with four three-pointers while junior Monte Goodwin (Boston, MA/Belmont) tallied 11 points, grabbed seven caroms and blocked four shots.
Senior Frank Stephenson (Fall River, MA) filled out the stat sheet with 13 points, a contest-best seven assists and a trio of swipes.
As MCLA led at the break 32-28, the Trailblazers would come out the gate tripling up their opponents 21-7 and taking over a commanding 53-35 advantage with 10:12 remaining. Brown scored 10 points in a barrage that helped the visitors gain their largest lead of the contest.
The Lancers responded with a 14-2 run and after consecutive treys by Gittens, they would trail 55-49 with 5:21 left. MCLA answered with three quick lay-ups to put their margin into double figures with the 61-49 edge two minutes later.
After MCLA canned four straight buckets at the free throw line to make the score 65-54 with 1:40 on the clock, the Blue and Gold took advantage of four consecutive misses at the charity stripe. WSU would net five points on another trifecta by Gittens and two points in the paint by Hunter to cut their deficit down to six with 47 ticks remaining (65-59).
But MCLA would make eight of their next 12 attempts from the free throw line to secure the win and earn a spot in to the MASCAC Tournament Semifinals for the second consecutive season.
The Trailblazers led 11-4 five minutes into the contest before the hosts used a 10-3 spurt to knot the score at 14-14 with 11:01 left.
Following four ties and one lead change, MCLA went on a 7-0 surge to open up a 29-22 advantage with 3:00 remaining.
Worcester State scored six straight points off of consecutive miscues and a missed field goal to get within one point, but Harris nailed a three pointer just before the buzzer sounded for the 32-28 lead at the break.
MCLA shot a blistering 48 percent from the field for the game (28-for-58) while Worcester State kept pace with 45 percent (29-for-65) – including a 52 percent clip in the final stanza (16-for-31).
The Trailblazers led in total rebounds (39-35), second chance points (20-15 – 14-2 second half), points off turnovers (18-17 – 13-6 second half) and points in the paint were even (40-40).
WSU distributed the ball well as they had 15 helpers for 29 made field goals, but barely got to the charity stripe finishing with just seven attempts for the game ending a streak of 17 consecutive contests in which the Lancers recorded at least 15 bids from the free throw line.
The Lancers are now 3-2 all-time in the postseason against MCLA and drop to 11-3 in home games in the conference tournament.