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Fitchburg State Holds Off Brandeis 88-82 (OT)

Fitchburg State Holds Off Brandeis 88-82 (OT)

Bell and Bosworth combine for 43 points in Falcons non-conference victory

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Fitchburg State men's basketball team opened the second half of its 2015-16 season with an 88-82 overtime victory over the Judges of Brandeis University this evening in non-conference action at the Red Auerbach Arena.

Fitchburg State opened the contest on a 14-2 run as junior guard Jaleel Bell led the way with six points, while seniors Kwame Lee and Givaughn Jones as well as sophomore Josh Bosworth added baskets for the Falcons.

The Judges responded with an 8-0 stretch midway through the first half on a trio of bucket from junior center John Powell and a two free throws by classmate Robinson Vilmont to cut the deficit to six at 14-8.

The Green and Gold answered back with jumpers from Lee and sophomore Richie Warren, Jr and a pair of free throws by Bell to extend the lead back to nine (20-11) with 8:21 remaining the opening frame.

Brandeis rallied back, going on a 10-2 run to end the half as sophomore Jordan Cooper and classmate Carlin Haymon registered four points each, while junior Jack Fay sank a pair of shots from the charity stripe before Fitchburg State junior Leonny Burgos converted a fast break layup as the Falcons took a 32-28 lead into the locker room.

Following the break, the hosts went on a 16-3 run (44-35) as Robinson ignited the stretch, posting eight points, while Cooper added a pair of jumpers as well with just under 15 minutes to play in the second half.

The Falcons battled back, cutting the lead to just one on a pair of three pointers by senior Anthony Muccioli and Bell and a layup from sophomore Jalen Williams to make the score 44-43. Both teams then proceeded to trade baskets throughout the remainder of regulation with neither team holding more than a five point lead.

After a basket by Bell to put the Falcons on top by two (72-70) with just four seconds remaining in the second half, Robinson converted a layup for Brandeis at the buzzer to knot the score at 72-72 to force the overtime period.

In overtime, the Judges took a 78-74 advantage in the opening minute of the extra stanza on a jumper from Cooper and a layup by junior Samuel Dowden, but Fitchburg State rallied to take a four point lead of its own (84-80) on a jumper by Burgos and a pair of free throws from Bell  with 22 seconds left in the contest as the Falcons held on a for an 88-82 overtime victory.

Fitchburg State was led offensively by Bell with a game best 28 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal, while Bosworth added to the mix with 15 points, six caroms, three blocks, one assist and one steal for the Green and Gold.

For Brandeis, Vilmont finished with 23 points, seven boards and one assist, while Cooper was just as solid, collecting 23 points, nine rebounds and one assist. Fay was the only other player to reach double figures, posting 14 points, one carom and one steal.

Overall, Fitchburg State shot 31-for-59 (52.5%) from the field, while going 22-of-26 (84.6%) from the charity stripe. Brandeis went 26-for-64 (40.6%) overall, along with a 24-for-34 (70.6%) mark the free-throw line. The Falcons also held a slight 37-36 advantage on the glass. 

Fitchburg State (6-6; 0-0 MASCAC) will return to action on Saturday as it travels to Western New England University for a contest starting at 1 p.m. Brandeis (5-4, 0-0 UAA) will battle Bates College on Saturday in opening round action of the Naismith Classic, hosted by Springfield College at 7:30 p.m.

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