CASTLETON, Vt. -- The MCLA men's basketball team erupted in the first half, shooting a torrid 68 percent, and cruised from there in defeating the Castleton University Spartans, 95-71, on Tuesday night.
Drury graduate Hayden Bird scored a career 25 points off the bench to lead all scorers. He scored 17 of them in the pivotal first half. Noah Yearsley scored all 19 of his points in the opening half while Chris Becker tallied 14 of his career best 20 in the opening half of play.
MCLA (3-2) never trailed as they started out hot. Becker scored on consecutive putbacks for an early 4-0 lead and when Yearsley connected from deep, MCLA led 7-0. Another Becker bucket made it 9-0 before Castleton finally got on the scoreboard.
The Spartans (0-2) clawed back to within 16-14 after Amadou Diakite scored, but MCLA responded with a powerful 11-0 run capped off by a Bird layup to put MCLA on top 27-14. A few minutes later with the score now 45-31, MCLA made a late surge to put the game away.
The Trailblazers used a 20-9 run to close the half as Yearlsey scored the final seven points of the half. MCLA shot a sizzling 68% in the half and held a decided 23-7 edge off the glass.
Castleton did not get any closer than 18 points in the second half as MCLA cruised home.
Bird was 10-for-17 from the floor to notch his career high. He added 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the win. Yearsley was 8-for-9 from the floor with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Becker easily had his best game of his young career. He went 10-for-12 from the field and pulled down 5 boards.
Ki-Shawn Monroe had a tremendous floor game ending with 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Trailblazers finished the contest shooting a solid 54%. They owned a 47-27 edge in rebounding as well.
After five straight road tilts to start the season, MCLA opens up at home on Saturday when they host Becker.
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