Bell and Williams lead Falcons to key MASCAC victory
FITCHBURG, Mass. - The Fitchburg State University men's basketball team withstood a 34-point second half from the Westfield State Owls, coming out on the winning side of a 75-59 decision in Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) action at Parkinson's Gymnasium this afternoon.
With the victory, the Falcons improve to 5-2 in conference play, taking over sole-possession of the #2 seed with five conference games remaining.
The Green & Gold did it with senior leadership as four upperclassmen finished the contest in double-digits. Senior Jalen Williams (nine rebounds) and classmate Jaleel Bell (eight rebounds) finished with a game-high with 18 points apiece while fellow seniors Leonny Burgos (seven assists) and Lance Hill (four assists) finished with 14.
The host got out to a comfortable lead in the opening ten minutes, controlling a 20-7 scoring run, highlighted by seven quick-points from Bell in the game's first five minutes.
Westfield State gained its traction midway through the stanza, matching the hosts bucket-for-bucket during an 18-18 tradeoff, before closing out the half trailing 38-25 following a pair of free throws from sophomore Peter Mafo.
The Owls came out of the halftime break looking to build upon the work done to close out the, reducing the gap to five points (44-37) after a six-minute and 49 second, 14-6 scoring run, bookended by a huge put back slam in traffic by senior Shane Pasquantonio.
Westfield State rode the early second-half momentum for another scoring run – this time 10-6 – as senior guard Jesus Sanchez picked up seven points to get his team within one on the scoreboard, 50-49.
The Falcons responded promptly, dropping in eight unanswered before Sanchez scored his ninth point in the first 13 minutes of the half.
The next possession, Fitchburg State punctuated the team play of the Falcons when junior Josh Bosworth took a nice-feed from Burgos inside the key before rising up with a two-handed dunk, pushing the lead back up to 60-51.
With 5:40 left to play, Burgos took over offensively for the Green & Gold, scoring seven points and leading a 15-7 game-closing charge to give the Falcons its fifth MASCAC victory of the 2016-17 campaign, 75-59.
Throughout the contest, Fitchburg State shot 27-of-54 from the field (50%), while hitting 9-of-15 from beyond the arc (60%). Westfield State finished 20-of-52 shooting (38.5%), while netting 6-of-19 from triple (31.6%). The Falcons controlled the glass 38-to-29 and doubled up its opponent on assists with 22. Both teams forced 15 turnovers.
For Westfield State, Sanchez finished with a team-high 14 points off 6-of-13 shooting, while Pasquantonio ended as the team's second-highest scorer, picking up eight points and six boards. Junior Allister Williams added eight points on 2-of-5 from three-point land for the Owls in the setback.
Next up, Fitchburg State (10-9, 5-2 MASCAC) will host the Ephs of Williams College on January 30th with a 7:00 P.M. tip-off. Westfield State (5-13, 2-5 MASCAC) clashes with its third-straight MASCAC opponent on February 1st when it hosts MCLA at 5:30 P.M.
Release courtesy of Fitchburg State student journalist Kyle Prudhomme