FITCHBURG ---- The Fitchburg State University men's basketball team put the finishing touches on its Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season title with its 72-64 victory against Framingham State University on senior day this afternoon.
The Falcons, who clinched the regular season championship along with home court throughout the conference tournament in a February 15th win versus Salem State, finishes the year with ten consecutive MASCAC wins after dropping back-to-back contests to open the conference schedule.
Fitchburg State senior guard Jaleel Bell led the team, scoring a game-most 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting and adding five rebounds. It was the 14th game this year he found himself scoring 20 or more points.
Framingham State got out to the early lead as Fitchburg High School alumni, sophomore Manny Payton and freshman Tyri Hampton, combined for seven points in the opening five minutes to set the pace during a 9-4 run.
With 8:31 to go in the first half, Fitchburg State's offense began to find a rhythm with four consecutive baskets coming from assists to spark a 10-4 run - Framingham's Tim Mangano scored all four himself - and getting the Falcons to within one on the scoreboard (27-26).
The Rams kept the Falcons at arms length for most of the remaining time of the first, but the Green & Gold were finally able to snag a lead with 44 seconds left when senior Jalen Williams capped an 8-4 scoring run with a tough layup inside the paint to give the hosts the 36-35 advantage before halftime.
After the break, the teams engaged in some back-and-fourth before a 10-4 drive, with seven points coming from Bell, gave the Falcons some cushion with 10:40 left in regulation. A few moments later, seven unanswered points gave the Green & Gold its largest lead of the half (62-53).
Fitchburg native Payton tried to will his team back into the game, scoring seven of his team-high 16 in the final five minutes, but it was too little too late as the Falcons were able to seal the game, 72-64.
Throughout the contest, the Rams held an advantage in field goal percentage knocking down 24-of-53 shots (45.3) to the Falcons 28-of-64 from the field (43.8%). Fitchburg State maintained a lead on the glass by a margin of 38-32 and forced 16 turnovers to the opponents 11. The game saw three ties and eight lead changes.
Fitchburg junior Josh Bosworth picked up 19 points on 8-of-15 from the floor, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 36 minutes played. Senior Leonny Burgos finished with a game-high six assists to go along with ten points while Williams led all-bench scorers with eight points.
Framingham sophomore guard Payton and senior forward Mangano finished tied for the team-high with 16 points apiece. Mangano added four rebounds and a pair of steals. Hampton scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds to also contribute.
With their 10-2 MASCAC record (15-10 overall), the Falcons secured home court throughout the conference tournament and will host either #4 Westfield State or #5 Worcester State in the Semifinals on Thursday February 23rd at 7:00 PM.
Release Courtesy of student journalist Kyle Prudhomme