BRIDGEWATER, Mass. - The Bridgewater State University men's basketball team captured the 2018 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament championship as the second-seeded Bears downed #4 Fitchburg State University, 77-72, in the conference title game on Saturday afternoon at the Tinsley Center.
Senior guard Rocky DeAndrade (Mansfield, Mass.) garnered tournament MVP honors as he tallied 12 points, including four crucial free throws in the final ten seconds, to go along with three rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Bears (18-9) have won the MASCAC Tournament title six times in the last 13 years and seven times overall. Bridgewater will now advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the eighth time in program history. The previous seven appearances came in 1983, 1999, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. The 2009 squad made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. NCAA Tournament pairings will be announced Monday afternoon on NCAA.com with the selection show getting underway at 12:30 PM.
Sophomore forward Rayshon Ward (Fayetteville, N.C.) and sophomore guard Ryan Carney (Easton, Mass.) added 19 points apiece for the Bears. Ward also added eight boards and five assists, while Carney dished out three assist to go along with a block and a steal. Senior forward Joseph Carty (Natick, Mass.) posted a double-double, his team-leading 16th of the season, with 16 points and a game-best 13 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Tyrell St. John (Stamford, Conn.) paced the Falcons with a game-high 20 points, while senior forward Joshua Bosworth (Springfield, Mass.) added 16 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Brandon Harris (San Bernardino, Calif.) checked in with 14 points and four boards in 28 minutes off the bench.
The Bears got up by as many as 18 points (39-21) in the first half, before a quick 5-0 spurt by Falcons to close out the stanza made it a 39-26 game at the break.
Bridgewater shot 42% (14-33) from the floor in the first half and held Fitchburg to just 28% (9-32) shooting. Carty led all players with 11 first-half points, while Carney tallied ten.
An alley-oop dunk by Ward followed by a breakaway dunk by sophomore forward Dimitri St. Louis (Brockton, Mass.) to open the second half started a 10-2 run which gave the Bears their biggest lead of the game at 49-28. Back-to-back trifectas by Ward and St. Louis capped off the run.
Trailing 54-36 with 15 minutes remaining in the contest, Fitchburg used a 9-1 run over the next three minutes to make it a ten-point game (55-45). The Bears responded with seven straight points on a pair of layups by Ward and Carty followed by a Ward three-pointer to push the lead back to 17 (62-45) with nine minutes left to play. The Falcons answered with an 11-2 spurt, highlighted by a pair of trifectas by Harris and one from St. John, to get it to single-digits, 64-56, as the clock ticked under five minutes.
Late in the stanza, the Falcons pulled to within six, 67-61, following a Bosworth layup, but Carty answered with a layup of his own at the other end of the floor off a nice feed from Carney to give BSU a 69-61 advantage with 1:20 showing on the scoreboard.
The Bears then went 1-for-4 from the free throw line (missing the front end of a one-on-one twice) over the next 35 seconds and the Falcons took full advantage as Tracy drained a three-ball and Bosworth dropped in a layup to make it a four-point game (70-66) with 45 seconds left to play.
Ward then came up with a key steal and the Bears went 7-for-8 at the charity stripe over the final 34 seconds to secure the 77-72 victory.
Bridgewater shot 45% (26-58) for the game including 10-for-22 (46%) from behind the arc. The Bears struggled at free throw line converting on just 15 of 24 (63%) attempts at the stripe.
Fitchburg finished with 44% (27-62) shooting percentage. The Falcons went 8-for-24 (33%) from long range and knocked down 10 of 15 (67%) free throws.
The Falcons end the season with an overall record of 13-15.