NORTH ADAMS, Mass — The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Trailblazers rallied past the visiting Fitchburg State Falcons, 66-60, Saturday afternoon and in the process maintained their unbeaten record in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Trailblazers victory marked their fifth straight, all in league play, in moving to 8-9 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the MASCAC. The Falcons drop to 8-7 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
The game was tight throughout as no team led by more than eight points. Both teams had advantages in the closing half, however it was MCLA that made some key plays down the stretch to earn the hard fought victory.
After MCLA tied the game at 55 on a Paul Maurice 3-pointer with 3:41 left, Fitchburg responded with a conventional three point play from Tom Henneberry to go back up three. After trading baskets and the score at 60-57 in favor of Fitchburg, MCLA would close the game by scoring the final nine points.
Trailblazer captain Vernon Cross converted consecutive drives to the basket to put MCLA up one at 61-60 with 1:24 left to play. On the ensuing possession, the Falcons came up empty on a pair of Brandon Selby attempts, one of which was blocked by Richard Johnson. After Johnson grabbed the rebound, the Falcons were forced to foul.
The senior knocked down the first and miss the second shot. A hustling Johnson tracked down the loose ball as MCLA retained possession with just 19 seconds left holding a three-point lead. Another Fitchburg foul sent John Jones to the line and he converted both ends to stretch out to a 65-60 advantage. Another miss by the Falcons secured the win for MCLA who added a free throw late to provide the final margin.
MCLA will look to stay atop the MASCAC on Wednesday when they travel to Bridgewater State.