RENSSELAER, N.Y. — The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts men's basketball team let a double-digit lead slip away and fell to Tri State Shootout host RPI in the finals, 92-87. A pair of Trailblazers, Vernon Cross and Bilal Shabazz, were named to the All Tournament team.
MCLA drops to 1-4 on the season with the loss. RPI improves to 3-3.
The Trailblazers held a 53-39 halftime lead behind Shabazz's first-half play. The junior tallied 13 points in the opening frame. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute quickly began chipping away at the lead in the second half.
MCLA still led comfortably at 69-54 with 13:47 to play following an Anthony Barbosa layup. A few minutes later, RPI made their game changing run. With the score at 74-61, RPI ran off a 16-4 run to close within 78-77 with 5:17 remaining.
After a pair of Dominick Bostick free throws put MCLA up three, RPI's Jarrett Boeglin knocked down consecutive jumpers to give RPI an 81-80 lead with over four minutes left. A Cross three point play put MCLA ahead briefly, but RPI responded with another spurt, this time a 6-2 jolt to go ahead 88-84.
Another three point play from Cross pulled MCLA within a point with 31 seconds left, however RPI made four straight free throws and got a defensive stop to pull out the win.
MCLA placed four players in double figures led by Shabazz's 18. Cross finished with 13 points and five rebounds. John Jones and Richard Johnson each finished with 10 points. Jones added four steals and four assists.
For RPI, Jamie Zajac led the way with 15 points. Erik Hatton added 12 points and seven rebounds. Tyler Gendron and Nick Keefe added 10 points each.
MCLA held a commanding 52-38 rebounding edge, however committed 27 turnovers in defeat. The Trailblazers will travel to face Brandeis on Wednesday night.