WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The MCLA men's basketball team Monday returned to play after a lengthy 36-day layoff as they traveled to face Westfield State.
The Trailblazers came out firing and never looked back as they earned a key 79-64 win over the Owls. Noah Yearsley scored a season best 26 points and MCLA was great from 3-point range as they went 13-28 from beyond the arc.
MCLA (6-6 overall) earned their first win of the conference slate as they're now 1-0. The Owls dropped to 12-4 overall and sit at 2-2 in the conference.
The Trailblazers never trailed in this one as they held Westfield without a basket for the opening four minutes to open up a quick 8-1 lead. MCLA's Jojo Garcia drilled a 3-pointer, and when Bright Afful made a layup, the lead was 15-4. MCLA settled on a 34-24 halftime lead as Garcia and Yearsley combined for 25 points.
In the second half, Westfield made a run fueled by a Brendon Hamilton dunk to cut the lead to 47-40, but Drury graduate Hayden Bird completed a four-point play to extend the lead back to double digits at 51-40, still with eleven minutes to play. That play started an 8-0 spurt that gave MCLA a commanding 55-40 lead.
Westfield got no closer than 13 the rest of the way as MCLA answered every challenge to earn the win.
Yearsley led all scorers with his 26-point night. He was 9-for-16 from the floor and 5-for-8 from three point land. He added 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. Bird heated up in the second half to end with 16 points. He made five 3-pointers in the win and just missed a double double of his own with nine rebounds.
MCLA shot 43% from the floor and 46% from three point range.
Westfield was paced by Kumar Brown's 14 point effort on 6-9 shooting. Hamilton added 8 points but a game best 14 boards in defeat.
The Owls were set back by a 35% shooting night and just 9-17 from the FT line.
MCLA is back in action Wednesday night when it hosts MASCAC front-runner Salem State at 7:30 p.m.
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