By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Sixteen games into the season, the Bridgewater State University men’s basketball team had managed only three victories.
The Bears dropped nine of their 10 games in November and December and did not put together consecutive victories until late January.
After that rough beginning, though, Bridgewater State finds itself in the semifinal round of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
The fourth-seeded Bears advanced by putting together a thorough performance to defeat fifth-seeded Framingham State University, 101-84, on Tuesday night at the Tinsley Center.
Defending champion Bridgewater State (9-17) will travel to top-seeded Salem State University (16-9) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“I’m very happy,” said coach Joe Farroba after six players reached double figures. “I was really nervous about it. I didn’t know what we were going to get. We’ve been an up-and-down team all year. It was good to get going like this.”
The Bears got contributions throughout the lineup in a win that was highlighted by junior Ryan Carney of Easton scoring the 1,000th point of his career. Carney, the 29th player in program history to reach that number, hit the milestone with a 3-pointer in the game’s final minute.
Freshman point guard Admar Jaramillo of Brockton had a career-best 10 steals to go with 19 points while freshman guard Jose Monteiro Jr. came off the bench to score a career-high 18 points on 7 for 8 shooting, hitting all three of his 3-pointers.
Three others were in double figures, including Dimitri St. Louis of Brockton (14), Rayshon Ward (12 plus 10 rebounds, eight assists and four steals) and Nick Crocker (10 with 13 rebounds and three blocks).
“It’s a good win, given the way we’ve gone,” said Farroba. “We dug a hole for ourselves this season, but it’s a great opportunity now. We have a chance to right the season, a chance to go up there to Salem State and get a win. We thought we could play for a championship and we’ve put ourselves in that situation.”
Bridgewater State and Framingham State (6-19) were tied, 21-21, near the midway point of the first half when the Bears went on a 21-4 run as Monteiro scored eight of his points.
A 3-pointer by Monteiro before the buzzer put BSU in front, 47-35, at halftime, and the Bears were in front by as many as 23 points in the second half despite a 38-point performance by Emmanuel Payton (16 for 27).
“Everybody contributed,” said Farroba. “Jose Monteiro gave us a strong game off the bench. That was a real good push for us. (Jaramillo) has a lot of potential and had a real good game and Nick Crocker forced himself on the game tonight.″
Carney, who had only six points at halftime, made 6 of 17 shots, including 3 of 10 from 3-point range. It looked like his bid for 1,000 points would have to wait until the next round, but Carney hit a foul shot with 1:10 remaining, a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left, then reached the milestone with 26 seconds to go.
“He’s got that scorer’s mentality,” said Farroba. “I’m just happy we got it out of the way.”
Bridgewater State lost two regular-season games to Salem State, falling at home, 98-91, on Jan. 16 and 108-97 on the road Feb. 6.
“Tempo is going to be a crucial thing,” said Farroba. “If we run up and down with them, it’s a 100-90 game and they’re better at it than us. We’ve got to keep it in the 70s.
We can’t be playing the wrong type of game.”