Bell and Burgos combine for 30 points in Falcons non-conference victory
FITCHBURG, Mass. --- Fitchburg State men's basketball defeated the #23 ranked Engineers of WPI, 74-61 in non-conference action this afternoon at the Parkinson Gymnasium.
The Green and Gold, with more seniors than WPI on their roster, were powered by their heavy-veteran presence as four upperclassmen – Jaleel Bell (16 pts.), Leonny Burgos (14 pts.), Lance Hill (12 pts.) and Jalen Williams (11 pts.) – led the offense in the upset of the Engineers (ranked 23rd in the latest D3hoops.com men's basketball top 25 poll).
The energy of both teams was equally matched during the opening minutes of the contest, until the 13-minute mark when Fitchburg State separated themselves with a 12-to-4 scoring run, spanning over five minutes to give them the biggest lead of the first half, 20-9.
With just under two minutes left in the half, WPI pulled to within one point as senior guard Sean Doncaster netted five points to lead a 7-2 scoring advantage before the Falcons bumped the lead back to three late in the stanza as Bell drove the lane and finished a layup with four seconds remaining to take a 36-33 advantage into the locker room.
After the intermission, WPI continued to battle, taking their first lead of the contest with 14:23 remaining on a layup from junior guard Chris Rodgers – he scored seven of his eight points over three minutes to aid his team to the 44-43 margin.
The teams traded buckets until the eight-minute mark of regulation as the Green and Gold established their game-winning run (23-to-4) and took the largest lead of the game, 70-54 with Bell scoring nine of his team-high 16 points, while Burgos added six points to facilitate the offense, en-route to the 74-61 final.
For Fitchburg State, sophomore guard Carlos Bermudez-Glean finished with nine points, getting the majority of work done from the charity stripe where he went 5-of-6, while Williams pulled down a team-high eight boards. Burgos was also solid for the Falcons, adding four assists to lead all players.
For WPI, senior forward Ian Converse was tied for a game-high with 16 points and added ten rebounds for his second double-double of the season, while freshman forward Jake Wisniewski picked up 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds.
Fitchburg State shot 4-of-10 from downtown (40.0%) and 27-of-51 (52.9%) from the field, while WPI ended 4-of-18 from beyond the arc (22.2%) and 22-of-55 overall (40.0%). The Green and Gold's pesky defense forced 20 turnovers - a season-high for WPI, while creating 17 points on the other end. The Green and Gold held a 35-24 advantage in bench scoring, while WPI managed a 38-to-31 advantage in rebounds throughout the game.
In its next game, Fitchburg State University (3,3 0-0 MASCAC) braces the road following three consecutive home contests as they travel to Clark University on December 6th for a 7:00 P.M. tipoff. WPI (5-2, 0-0 NEWMAC) will host MCLA, its second Massachusetts State Athletic Conference opponent of the week, on Tuesday with action starting at 7:00 P.M.
Release Courtesy of Fitchburg State student journalist Kyle Prudhomme